New images have been released of a £300m new leisure hub and tourist attraction in the heart of Blackpool.
If approved, the ‘heritage quarter’ will include a major public square for hosting live events, three indoor entertainment centres, a hotel, restaurants and additional leisure space, as well as a 1,306-space multi-storey car park.
The proposals are part of the seaside town’s post-Covid comeback, with planning applications now lodged with Blackpool Council, Lancs Live has reported.
It would see a brand new, year-round leisure destination built at the site of the former Blackpool Central railway station.
The application from developers Nikal Ltd and Media Invest Entertainment includes proposals to restore the site’s existing heritage buildings.
The site is home to the former King Edward VII Picture House, a Grade II-listed building that could be transformed into a new food hall with outside dining space.
The King Edward VII pub is also set for refurbishment, to create a new pub and hotel that will be a ‘modern, family friendly environment’.
Blackpool Central Railway Station, once the world’s busiest, closed in 1964 and the site has since been used for car parking and outdoor events.
The redevelopment scheme will inject some cash and boost Blackpool’s tourism sector, the developers have said, creating a new attraction for visitors.
The submission of the plans follows a public consultation with 700 members of the local community, with 90 per cent supporting the proposals.
Feedback from the consultation stage said that it will breathe new life into the buildings and help to boost footfall, and may be a catalyst for regenerating the surrounding area and Central Drive.
The £300m scheme would be the largest single investment in Blackpool for more than a century, creating 1000 new jobs and attracting an estimated 600,000 new visitors each year.
It could increase annual spend in the town by £75m.
The plans have been welcomed by council leader Coun Lynn Williams, who said it will breathe ‘new life’ into the town.
Coun Williams, who is also a cabinet member for tourism and culture said: “Blackpool Central is vitally important in creating new jobs, boosting the town’s tourism and supporting the local economy.
“The new multi storey car park is a key part to enabling the future phased stages of the development to take place, whilst protecting the car parking spaces needed for our visitors throughout the development.
“The plans for the new Heritage Quarter are an extremely welcome feature as they will breathe new life into neglected properties, reviving the Central Drive area for the benefit of surrounding businesses and residents.”
Richard Fee, chairman of Nikal said: “This is a watershed moment for Blackpool Central. The overwhelmingly positive response to our consultation shows the level of excitement and enthusiasm around the scheme.
“We’d like to thank everyone for getting involved and sharing their ideas for how we can make the most of this exciting opportunity.
“The initial phases, including the multi storey car park and Heritage Quarter, will create a springboard for delivering our vision for the Blackpool Central project.
“In the short term, the early delivery of the car park will ensure that we protect and enhance the town centre’s current car parking provision.”
Norbert Reichart, CEO of Media Invest Entertainment said that this is a ‘major step’ towards creating one of the most ‘exciting developments’ in the UK.
“The scheme has a crucial role to play in enhancing Blackpool’s tourism offer and attracting more visitors to the town, and we have been spurred on by the strong show of support for our plans,” added Mr Reichart.
“The consultation has also given us lots of food for thought for how we shape the future phases of Blackpool Central and maximize its pulling power.”
A decision on the planning application is expected from Blackpool Council later this year.