Blackpool to bid for regeneration investment

By Tim Aldred

13 Jul 2020

Blackpool is preparing to pitch for £25m of investment from the government to rejuvenate its town centre.

The seaside town was one of 100 towns selected to apply for the Future High Streets Fund, which has a pot of £1bn to share across the  UK.

Now the council has earmarked 11 projects to improve access to the resort, upgrade infrastructure and convert empty properties. They are:

  1. Houndshill Extension: To create a new multiscreen Imax-style cinema, two restaurants and a relocated Wilko.
  2. Redevelopment of the Old Post Office: To secure the refurbishment and re-use of this prominent vacant building for a private sector hotel development.
  3. Abingdon Street Market: To secure the rejuvenation of the Abingdon Street Market to make it more appealing to a wider resident and visitor base.
  4. Property acquisition on King Street: Ensuring availability for a potential major office development.
  5. Creative Business Incubation: To acquire and refurbish three vacant units in the town centre to create new retail/maker units for small businesses including pop ups and art and culture businesses.
  6. Adelaide St Transport Hub & Access Improvements: To improve public and other transport access including bus shelters, taxi, cycle and pedestrian access facilities.
  7. Developing an Innovation Partnership: Working with a retail consumer specialist, investment and innovation firm using their expertise and contacts to pilot innovative digital retail technologies in high street businesses, improving businesses’ understanding of their customers.
  8. Digital Infrastructure: To provide the high street businesses and shoppers access to better broadband and the substantial digital infrastructure available to Blackpool.
  9. Customer Analytics: To develop and design a monitoring system to more clearly understand visitor footfall, how people move around, the places they visit and the time they spend, to help support businesses adapt to change, and identify new opportunities to enhance the visitor experience.
  10. Fylde Coast Rail Study: This is a technical feasibility study and outline business case to support an extension of the current Blackpool-Fleetwood line to increase frequency and improve connectivity across the Fylde Coast.
  11. Application Technology for Marketing & Promotion: Involving the introduction of a town centre gift card and loyalty programme to stimulate economic activity through increased footfall and local spend.

The bid development has been overseen by the Future High Streets Fund Board, chaired by independent chair Peter Cole the former chief investment officer of Hammerson, and comprising Blackpool business and community partners.

Peter said: "The town centre is at the heart of our community and we need to ensure it remains an attractive place where people want to be, to enjoy, to shop, to work and in the future live, ensuring businesses grow and thrive. Our plans are ambitious but ambition and innovation is what keeps Blackpool strong, resilient and willing to evolve.

The additional funding and help from government is desperately needed for our high street, now more than ever, as we start to recover from the current pandemic. If we are successful in securing funding then with the involvement of the community considerable more work is required to deliver these, but we are confident that the proposals will attract new business, boost local growth and create new jobs, and combined with the other major projects underway, secure the long term prosperity of the town."

The final bid for Blackpool will be submitted this month and a decision is anticipated this autumn.

The council has also submitted its Houndshill Phase 2 and Abingdon Street Market plans as the government is separately seeking 'shovel-ready' schemes which could be accelerated and through the Local Enterprise Partnership.

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