Confidence is the gateway to prosperity

Blackpool’s proud motto is ‘Progress’. And nothing embodies that more than its flagship Talbot Gateway development.

The first stage of the regeneration project, completed in 2014, included impressive Grade A offices which now accommodate more than 1,000 public and private sector workers, an anchor Sainsbury’s flagship store and retail and leisure space.

Blackpool North train station received a welcome revamp, with a new interchange and public realm improvements. The council says £80m has been invested to date.

Phase two is even more ambitious with a new £23.4m tramway extension connecting directly with the train station. A four-star Holiday Inn and Marco Pierre White restaurant will bring more jobs and there will be added retail and leisure facilities.

Work could have started in the spring after the council agreed the £36.4m funding needed, with demolition of the existing Wilko store. The coronavirus has put that on hold.

Blackpool Council and Muse Developments have been working in partnership to develop the Central Business District since March 2009.

Council leader Simon Blackburn says: “As the flagship commercial development for Blackpool, Phase Two of Talbot Gateway continues to transform an important entrance to the town, and highlights the excellent commercial opportunities that this town has to offer.

The town has definitely turned the corner and is on the up.

“We are delighted to welcome The Holiday Inn brand to Blackpool, and are confident that more internationally successful, recognised brands will follow in their wake.

“This next phase of the development will offer brand new retail locations, an improved leisure offer to boost the night-time economy, offer more high quality accommodation choice for leisure and business visitors alike and promote a more integrated and connected use of our transport system.”

Mike Horner, development director at Muse, says there is a newly found confidence in Blackpool. He says: “The town has definitely turned the corner and is on the up. A lot of that is down to the determination, vision and tenacity and ambition of the council.

“They understand that they can’t do it all themselves and have to engage with the private sector to bring forward a number of their plans.

“A number of projects are being taken forward and the council investing heavily gives people, particularly investors, confidence.

“Projects moving forward and people committing shows that they have confidence in the town. Investors don’t like to be the first.

“Gradually with these different projects and investments, confidence is beginning to return.

“There is also a desire from a lot of people, particularly central government, to see the Victorian resort towns of England being given support.”

Mike also says the Talbot Gateway project, “shows what can be done in the town. We need more of that to attract more jobs and bring the investment into the town centre.”

The aim is to make the centre of Blackpool “even more vibrant” and not just for the people during the tourist season and summer months but all year round. He adds that there are plans for more town centre office buildings.

Good quality hotels are also raising the bar. Mike says: “They are fundamentally changing the perception of Blackpool as a place to come and stay.

“We are seeing a lot of investment in new hotels. It means conferences will start to look at Blackpool again. We have missed that over the last decade or so. It’s big income for the town.”

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