Contractor chosen for first phase of £300m Blackpool attraction

Place North West


Dutch firm Ballast Nedam has been selected to deliver the 1,300-space multistorey car park at Blackpool Central, part of the enabling phase for Nikal and Media Invest’s 17-acre leisure development. 

Speaking to Place North WestNikal chairman Richard Fee said a hybrid planning application for the project is to go live on Friday and, subject to approval, Ballast will start the 15-month car park build in November. 

Nikal and Media Invest Entertainment are to seek full approval to remediate the Blackpool Central site, build the seven-storey car park, which has an end value of around £36m, and create the heritage quarter, while also seeking outline approval for future phases of the development. 

The car park has to be delivered first so that neighboring businesses such as SeaLife and Madame Tussauds don’t suffer a loss of parking provision during the redevelopment of the site, which is currently used as a surface car park. 

“Delivering the car park first is designed to protect the town centre,” Fee said. 

The 127,000 sq ft branded indoor theme park that will house Blackpool Central’s anchor tenant, the Chariots of The Gods Entertainment Park, forms the main part of the outline portion of the application. 

The Chariots of The Gods Entertainment Park, which is to include a ‘flying cinema’, is inspired by the 1968 bestselling book, The Chariots of The Gods, to which Media Invest Entertainment owns and controls the global media rights.  

Two smaller indoor theme parks, a 200-bedroom hotel, several bars and restaurants, and a 70,000 sq ft public square, also feature in future phases. The developers will seek full consent for these elements in the coming years. 

The hybrid application is being drawn up by master planner Spawforths and its submission follows the end of a period of public consultation, which saw the project receive 90% positive responses, according to Fee. 

“To submit a very, very large application after lockdown with a team scattered across the North of England using Zoom is heroic,” Fee said. 

Blackpool Civil Service Hub

Blackpool is close to signing a £100m funding deal for the civil service hub

Elsewhere in Blackpool, the council is awaiting final confirmation from the Government that it will relocate departments to a purpose-built 215,000 sq ft hub in the town centre before the authority signs off a £100m funding agreement. 

Blackpool Council’s executive committee approved the £100m funding deal for the scheme earlier this month but the council’s chief executive is awaiting the green light from Whitehall before the agreement is given final approval. 

Under the terms of the funding deal the council would contribute £82.25m and the tenant is to contribute £17.5m. 

It is understood the office would be occupied by Government departments already based in Blackpool, such as the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Defence.  

Leases on sites around the Fylde coast currently occupied by the DWP and MoD are due to expire soon.  

Speaking in the House of Lords in 2019, Baroness Jo Valentine said the departments “could be combined in a proposed civil service hub for thousands of jobs, which would provide year-round footfall for the local high street”. 

Designed by Make Architects, the office could house up to 2,500 civil servants. 

The scheme forms part of the Talbot Gateway masterplan, being delivered for the council by development partner Muse.