£300m Blackpool Central development area could be transformed for new food hall

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It is expected to create up to 1,000 jobs and boost annual spending in the town by £75m.

Artist's impression of the 'heritage quarter' planned for Blackpool Central site
Artist’s impression of the ‘heritage quarter’ planned for Blackpool Central site

New images have been unveiled of the proposed £300m Blackpool Central leisure development ahead of a planning application being submitted this summer.

They show how listed buildings on Central Drive will be transformed into a heritage quarter boasting an artisan food hall, refurbished pub and new holiday accommodation.

It comes as residents are being urged to have their say on the scheme which will see Central Car Park transformed over the next decade into a year-round destination bringing in around 600,000 extra visitors a year.

The full development, which will take five to 10 years to complete, is set to see a new indoor theme park built including a flying theatre, rides, an immersive virtual reality experience and a rooftop bar.

First revealed in 2018, it is expected to create up to 1,000 jobs and boost annual spending in the town by £75m.

Richard Fee, chairman of Nikal Ltd which is developing the site along with Media Invest Entertainment, said: “We’re looking to create a world-class leisure destination that will add to Blackpool’s current offer and attract hundreds of thousands of new visitors every year.

“This planning application for the enabling phase will allow us to deliver the new multi-storey car park and the heritage quarter, where we’re planning to create a new artisan food hall.

“We want to understand and listen to what the local community, local businesses and visitors to Blackpool think of this game-changing opportunity. Please get in touch and help us define and shape the scheme.”

Car park plans for the area
Car park plans for the area

A formal consultation exercise has now been launched with residents having until May 26 to take part.

Plans include a new major public square for live events such as concerts, light shows, sporting events and markets, and new hotels and restaurants.

Scoping documents lodged with the council in February also showed the first phase would see a heritage quarter created using the Grade II Listed former King Edward VII Cinema and locally listed King Edward VII pub, both on Central Drive.

A planning application is being prepared for the first phase of development, which includes a new 1,300 space multi-storey car park which will free up land for future phases and ensure there continues to be appropriate parking provision for visitors and residents.

Proposals include converting the Grade II Listed former King Edward VII Cinema into an artison food hall with outdoor dining areas.

The locally listed King Edward VII pub would be refurbished into a new pub and hotel, while the King Edward VII apartment building is set to be renovated into an aparthotel.

Norbert Reichart, chief executive of Media Invest Entertainment, said: “The new indoor theme park will provide all year, all weather family entertainment.

“With a mix of attractions, using some of the world’s latest technology, it’s set to become one of the UK’s most exciting destinations. We’re looking forward to hearing what people think about the plans.”

The scheme has received £8m as part of Blackpool’s Town Deal which saw it receive £39.5m in government funding last October.

An aerial view of the Blackpool Central plans
An aerial view of the Blackpool Central plans

Blackpool Council leader Coun Lynn Williams said: “Blackpool Central is a huge investment and a game-changer for our town.

“We have been working closely with the developers for a number of years to bring this project to fruition and we are delighted that their commitment to invest, and their belief in Blackpool is as strong as ever, as we move forward to the next key stage of the planned development.

“We look forward to hearing what our community has to say about this project, which has the potential to provide a significant boost to our economy, increase footfall in the area to the benefit of local shops, guest houses, hotels and businesses, and bring steady, year-round jobs to the people of Blackpool.”

But the pace at which the scheme is being developed has come in for criticism after it emerged a key element – the flying theatre – would not be unique to the resort.

Legoland in Windsor is due to open a similar attraction on May 29.

The Blackpool scheme was unveiled by the council in December 2018 – but has been slow to reach the planning stage.

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the opposition Conservative group on Blackpool Council, has previously warned the town’s scheme now looked like it was “going to be out of date before it’s even built.”

The site is bounded by Central Drive, Bonny Street, New Bonny Street and Chapel Street.

It includes the empty former Bonny Street police station which will eventually be demolished, and the law courts which are earmarked for relocation to the site of the former Devonshire Road Hospital on Devonshire Road.

Blackpool Central Railway Station closed in 1964 and has since been used for car parking and occasionally hosts outdoor events such as the annual Blackpool Illuminations switch on.

People can take part in the consultation by:-

  • Filling in the questionnaire in the newsletter that is being distributed to over 9,600 addresses in the area
  • Visiting the website blackpoolcentral.com, which includes an online questionnaire
  • Signing up on the website to attend a live webinar and Q&A on Wednesday May 12 6pm-7pm
  • Calling 0800 689 1095 or emailing hello@blackpoolcentral.com
  • Writing to Freepost HAVE YOUR SAY
  • Follow on social: Blackpool Central (Facebook/Instagram) and @bpoolcentral1 (Twitter)

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