Prime minister opens Blackpool conference and exhibition centre

Prime minister Boris Johnson has officially opened the new £30m conference and exhibition centre in Blackpool.

The venue sits within the Winter Gardens, which was hosting the Conservative Party Spring Conference as he unveiled a special plaque.

The new state-of-the-art conference centre offers  2,400 sq m of dedicated space set over two floors and is equipped with cutting-edge audio-visual technology.

It has been designed to link directly with the Empress Ballroom, Opera House and Empress Buildings, creating a hub of 12 distinct venues with a total capacity of 7,000 delegates and almost five acres of connected conference, meeting, event and exhibition space.

Built on the site of a former car park, the scheme was facilitated by £17.8m of funding from the government’s Growth Deal, which is managed by the Lancashire Economic Partnership (LEP), almost £3m from the Coastal Communities Fund and the remainder from Blackpool Council and the Blackpool Entertainment Company Ltd (BECL).

Boris Johnson said: "It was an honour to open Blackpool’s new conference and exhibition centre in the historic Winter Gardens for the first Conservative Conference here in 15 years.  

"This initiative is at the heart of our levelling up agenda, this new conference centre will make a real difference to boost economic growth and bring opportunities to this great coastal town.

"I hope this will be the home to many events for years to come, bringing people together from across the UK in the heart of Blackpool."

Coun Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council, said: "Our ambition in developing a new conference centre alongside the Winter Gardens is to see Blackpool regain its reputation for staging major league conferences.

"The return of the Conservative Party for their spring conference this weekend, coupled with the official opening by the Prime Minister, marks the start of that exciting journey."

Debbie Francis, chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: "A vibrant, busy Blackpool is good for the whole of Lancashire, so it’s therefore fantastic to see the £30m state-of-the-art Blackpool Conference and Exhibition Centre being officially opened by the prime minister today."