Blackpool Council submits plans for town centre Multiversity

By Tim Aldred

29 Nov 2023

Multiversity Sketch

Blackpool Council has submitted an outline planning application for a new state of the art education campus which will sit in the heart of the resort.

The council predicts that the five-story Multiversity campus, which would be leased to Blackpool and the Fylde College, could bring up to 3,000 new staff and students to the town centre.

The £65m development would allow the college to relocate from out of town facilities as part of the £350m Talbot Gateway regeneration of the area around Blackpool North train station.

The Multiversity would offer more than 70 individual courses and enhancing its existing higher education provision which is directly linked to local employment needs.

The proposed development would include two phases, starting with an education campus on the corner of Cookson Street and George Street, followed by future development across the southern end of the site by Milbourne Street and Grosvenor Street.

The plans would deliver up to 32,600 sqm of education and commercial space across several phases, starting with the new Multiversity building.

The main campus building would be designed to be carbon-neutral in operation, with the surrounding area on George Street landscaped and pedestrianised to make it a safer environment for students. The Multiversity has been designed by established architects Hawkins\Brown and aims to complement the rest of the Talbot Gateway regeneration.

Talbot Gateway is sited next to Blackpool North train station, with the Multiversity adding to other developments under construction nearby, including the 144 bedroom Holiday Inn and transport interchange, and the Civil Service Hub, which will bring an additional 3,000 professional workers to the area when it opens in 2025.

The site will offer plenty of sustainable transport options, including buses, train and tram, making the campus accessible to students across the Fylde Coast and beyond.

Coun Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “The Multiversity will be a game changing addition to Blackpool town centre and this is another exciting step forward.

“The Talbot Gateway is designed to support our plans to make Blackpool better, by bringing thousands of workers and students into the town centre, and creating an environment for local businesses to benefit from that huge increase in footfall, creating more jobs and opportunities for local people.

“The Multiversity will also help improve the town’s skills base so that our local people can learn work-ready skills and gain university level qualifications without leaving the town, while also offering a world class education campus that will help attract people to study, live and work in Blackpool.”

Alun Francis, principal and chief executive, Blackpool and The Fylde College said: “Multiversity will genuinely transform the opportunities for people in Blackpool and on the Fylde coast, helping to deliver a highly skilled workforce. It will combine the very best of higher and technical and professional education in one campus, with curriculum completely aligned with the growing opportunities across Lancashire and the North West.

“Multiversity aims to be the country’s first carbon neutral Higher Education campus and we fully intend it to be a landmark building as part of the redevelopment of Blackpool town centre. This is one of the best things to happen to Blackpool for a generation.”

The land for the new Multiversity is currently being acquired by Blackpool Council, with the support of a £9m government grant as part Blackpool Town Deal, which was awarded in March 2022.

The project was also awarded £40m as part of the government’s Levelling Up funding in January 2023 as part of the total project cost of £65m.

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