Blackpool: Increasing the attraction
Major investment on Blackpool’s seafront is set to add to the attraction of the UK’s iconic holiday resort.
The money being spent is a big vote of confidence in the town’s visitor economy as it looks to emerge strongly from the pandemic.
In the latest boost, a new world-class attraction on its famous Golden Mile has been given the go-ahead.
The scheme will see the redevelopment of part of the Golden Mile Centre on the Prom into a new £2.3m attraction.
Following an extensive procurement process, Merlin Entertainments has been selected as Blackpool Council’s regeneration partner to transform and redevelop the key site.
In the first phase of redevelopment, the south end of the site will be transformed into a family-focused visitor attraction, due to open next year. Further details will be announced early next year.
Kate Shane, regional director for Merlin Entertainments, says the new venue will add to its “already strong” cluster in the resort. These include attractions in the iconic Tower, such as the ballroom and circus, as well as Madame Tussauds and Sea Life Blackpool.
She said: “At Merlin we have some exciting global partnerships that we will be announcing in the coming months, which will firmly support Blackpool’s overall ambition to be the UK’s number one family seaside resort.
This is a key moment for levelling up Blackpool’s visitor economy post Covid
“By adding more globally recognised brands, delivered with Merlin’s world class guest experience, we know this will provide compelling new reasons for visitors to come to Blackpool.”
The Golden Mile Centre sits next to the key site earmarked for development for the £300m Blackpool Central scheme – a major driver for the town’s regeneration and post Covid-recovery.
Described as one of the UK’s most important regeneration projects, it will be the largest single investment in Blackpool for more than a century and is expected to create around 1,000 new jobs, bring an estimated 600,000 additional visitors each year and boost annual spend in the town by around £75m.
At the heart of the vision is the creation of a new world-class, year-round leisure destination on the former Blackpool Central railway station.
Nikal and Media Invest Entertainment’s detailed planning application for the initial phases of the scheme, which include a new 1,306-space multi-storey car park and ‘Heritage Quarter’, was given the green light in October.
Outline plans to deliver a major public events square for live events, three indoor entertainment centres, a hotel, restaurants and additional leisure and hospitality space at Blackpool Central were also given the go ahead.
Delivering the car park is critical to unlocking the wider scheme as it will free up land for the future phases and ensure that there continues to be appropriate parking for visitors and locals.
The redevelopment will restore the site’s existing heritage buildings to create a “thriving new Heritage Quarter”. As part of that, the Grade II-listed former King Edward VII picture house will be transformed into a new ‘Artisan Food Hall’.
Richard Fee, Nikal’s chief executive, said of the planning approval: “This is a key moment for levelling up Blackpool’s visitor economy post Covid. Blackpool Central will help transform and futureproof the town’s tourism offer.”
Nikal and Media Invest Entertainment say they are now working closely with the council to unlock the Blackpool Central redevelopment opportunity through the relocation of the courts to facilitate the last phase of the scheme.
Blackpool isn’t the only resort looking ahead with increased confidence. Up the coast in Morecambe, The Eden Project achieved a major milestone in its intentions to create a Northern location in the town by submitting a planning application.
The application has been submitted to Lancaster City Council and describes the vision for the £125m project: a major tourist attraction showcasing sustainable design and reimagining the British seaside resort. A decision is expected by the end of the year.
David Harland, chief executive of Eden Project International, said: “Eden Project North is a true collaborative effort and everyone who has taken part in our consultations, both formal and informal, can be confident that their input has helped shape this project.
“We are enormously proud of how this project has developed and hugely grateful to everyone who has contributed to it, especially considering the incredibly difficult circumstances of the last 18 months.”
- To read this feature in full and access further Lancashire business news, advice and analysis subscribe to Lancashire Business View magazine or join the LBV Hub from just £2.50 per month. Click here to subscribe now.