£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)

Blackpool’s new JD Gym with ‘very best’ equipment, studios and sauna

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The Covid-secure building has 250+ machines for gym lovers and will be offering over 300 classes along with personal trainers, bootcamps and JD burn and boxing

StairMasters are available at JD Gyms - Blackpool
StairMasters are available at JD Gyms – Blackpool (Image: JD Gyms)

Blackpool’s new state-of-the art gym is set to open tomorrow promising the very best fitness equipment, studios and saunas in luxury changing rooms.

The town’s new JD Gym has a dedicated JD burn area and sprint and trowler track plus vast free weights and functional areas.

Exercise bike facilities at JD Gyms - Blackpool
Exercise bike facilities at JD Gyms – Blackpool (Image: JD Gyms – Blackpool)

One man who visited on Monday said: “I popped down this morning! Great gym here. It’s huge! Very open plan which is good too, liking the Covid safe measures of screens next to cardio kit.

“JD burn area looks awesome too! Very spacious changing facilities too. Great effort here guys.”

One woman who popped in on the same day added: “I popped in for my preview. So different from how it used to be as DW. Great to speak with Emily & Ryan. Fantastic equipment. Great spin studio. Can’t wait to get in and back training in weight again.”

Another said: “It’s amazing, just been in. Can’t wait when classes restart.”

One of the vast free weights areas in JD Gyms - Blackpool
One of the vast free weights areas in JD Gyms – Blackpool (Image: JD Gyms – Blackpool)

Today is the last day to take advantage of a discount membership, of which there were 200 available, with the first month £5 which then goes to £19.99 a month.

The offer ends at midnight with no contracts and no joining fee.

The gym offers visitors free parking. A video walkthrough tour video has been posted on the JD Gyms Facebook page here.

To find out opening times and more information, please visit the JD Gyms website here.


Blackpool Illuminations open air switch-on event moved online for second year running

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The event which usually takes place at the Tower Festival Headland Arena, will be held in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom

The switch-on concert will be live streamed this year
The switch-on concert will be live streamed this year (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Blackpool Illuminations switch-on event will take place indoors for the second year running with the in-person open air event cancelled due to Covid fears.

Plans for the 2021 event have been unveiled with the return of a live concert in association with MTV.

With continuing uncertainty over restrictions on large-scale events this summer, VisitBlackpool has announced that its traditional Switch-On celebration on the night of September 3 will temporarily move into the Blackpool Tower Ballroom from its usual home on the outdoor Tower Festival Headland Arena.

The new event, which marks the start of four months of illuminations, will feature live music performances in ballroom with an audience made up of winners of a free-to-enter ballot.

The concert and Switch-On moment will also be live streamed across MTV and VisitBlackpool channels.

Last year, 225,000 households tuned in to watch the lights switch on in the free online event.

Cllr Gillian Campbell, Cabinet Member for Tourism & Culture for Blackpool Council, said: “We are thrilled to be able to announce the return of a live concert as a curtain-raiser for our extended Blackpool Illuminations season.

“While we would love to be able to bring back a full-scale concert with thousands of people partying on the headland, there are still too many uncertainties over the logistics of being able to do that in a safe and controlled way.

“We are fortunate that we have a world-class ballroom which is currently undergoing a £1m renovation and which will provide a truly fitting stage for the 2021 Switch-On concert.

“The live stream in 2020 proved hugely successful and we are delighted that people will be able to enjoy the celebration no matter where they are.”

Virginia Monaghan, Vice-President Events & Experiences, for ViacomCBS, added: “We are excited to be once again partnering with VisitBlackpool to deliver the annual Illuminations Switch-On event.

“We are looking forward to staging a very special celebration in one of the most iconic venues in the UK – and equally looking forward to bringing back a traditional Switch-On arena concert in 2022.”

Kate Shane, Head of the Blackpool Cluster for the Merlin Entertainments Group, said: “We are delighted to be hosting the annual Switch-On event in The Blackpool Tower Ballroom for the first time in our history.

“The ballroom is currently undergoing a huge renovation programme that will bring the magnificent ceiling back to its former glory. We look forward to being able to unveil this to a live Switch-On audience as well as a global live stream audience.”

Full details of the acts that will perform at the event will be revealed over the coming months along with the identity of the Switch-On star. At least 1,000 tickets will initially be available to join the live audience. Further tickets could be made available if future guidance allows. Any ticket allocation will be split equally between local residents and visitors.

In the meantime, you can register to enter the ballot for free tickets (maximum of four per person) at this link. Applications will close on Friday 30 July.

Blackpool takeaway refused over fears of too much fast food and overweight children

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The Bloomfield ward has seven times the national average number of takeaways and there are concerns over childhood obesity

The site on Lytham Road in the Bloomfield ward
The site on Lytham Road in the Bloomfield ward

Plans to open a takeaway in Blackpool have been refused over fears of too much fast food in the resort.

Proposals to open a ‘hot food’ takeaway on Lytham Road, have been deemed inappropriate by Blackpool Council, who are concerned over rising obesity rates in the town’s children – particularly in this area.

In its determination, the council stated that there are more than seven times the national average of takeaways within the Bloomfield ward and a high percentage of obese children.

Officer notes supporting the decision state: “The research shows that in Blackpool, the average number of hot food takeaways per 100,000head of population is 217 (196.5 when excluding units on the Promenade) compared to 96.5 nationally.

“The application falls within Bloomfield ward, where there are 715.14 hot food takeaways per 100,000 population (excluding the promenade) and is among the most deprived areas in the country and Blackpool borough with a high percentage of obese year 6 and reception pupils, at 24.8% and 11% respectively.

“With this in mind, it would not be sustainable to allow the development of a new takeaway in this area and the proposed scheme would be in direct contrast with the Council’s regeneration objectives for the town and its community.”

The property, which was being used as a cafe previously, now lies vacant and despite the benefit of bringing a disused building back to life – council planning officers believe there are other uses such as ‘residential’ uses which would better suit the building.

The report adds: “It is understood that the unit has been vacant since May 2020. Ordinarily some weight would be attached to a scheme seeking to bring a vacant property back into active use, but this vacancy has occurred during unprecedented times of national lockdown where movement in thisc ommercial sector has been substantially reduced.

“There is no reason to suppose that this unit could not be let or sold for an appropriate land use, including residential use.”

Overall, officers felt that the plans would be too detrimental to the council’s overall scheme to tackle childhood obesity in the town, stating that the ‘potential harm’ of the takeaway outweighed any benefits.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach eyes doomed hotel site for new long-stay car park

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The Argosy Hotel on Balmoral Road, near the theme park, has been earmarked for demolition

Blackpool Pleasure Beach is applying for permission to build a new car park on the site of a former hotel.

The popular theme park is looking to build a 32-space long stay car park on land at 30 Balmoral Road and 31-33 Osborne Road.

According to planning documents, the car park would be created following the demolition of the existing buildings at the site, which include the Argosy Hotel – which is currently lying empty.

The hotel, along with two residential dwellinga on Osborne Road, have already been earmarked for demolition – but this has not started yet.

A planning application has been submitted to Blackpool Council, showing the company’s intention to use the new car park for staff purposes if it is approved.

Access to the site would be gained from Osborne Road.

Comments can be submitted in favour of, or against the development until later this month. A decision is expected at the end of next month.

To view the application visit Blackpool Council’s planning applications page.

Blackpool bakery fire sparks emergency response and investigation

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A fire broke out on Church Street over the weekend as fire crews rushed to the scene

BPL Bible / LancsLiveFire crews blocked the road

A bakery which set alight in Blackpool over the weekend triggered an emergency response and investigation.

Four fire engines rushed to the scene of Laine’s Bakery on Church Street last night (May 3) at around 7.50pm after the fire broke out.

Firefighters used two breathing apparatus and one hose reel to extinguish the fire which involved a commercial oven at the site.

Fire engines from Blackpool, South Shore and Bispham could be seen blocking to road as crews rushed to control the blaze, with pictures showing fire crews surrounding the property as firefighting took place.

No injuries were reported during the incident, confirms Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.

The cause of the fire has not yet been established and an investigation is now underway.

BPL Bible / LancsLive

BPL Bible / LancsLive

BPL Bible / LancsLive

BPL Bible / LancsLive

BPL Bible / LancsLive

BPL Bible / LancsLive

BPL Bible / LancsLive

BPL Bible / LancsLive




Yorkshire donkeys pampered before getting back in the saddle in Blackpool for bank holiday weekend

Blackpool Gazette: Blackpool A&E crisis cases top UK list - Parliament  Street

Four donkeys from Yorkshire who will carry children across the resort’s beaches this bank holiday received a well-deserved pampering session before getting back in the saddle.

After a year out-of-action due to lockdown, four Yorkshire donkeys are back in the resort this bank holiday.

But first they had lots of human input to ensure they were 100 per cent – including a visit from the vet, having their teeth checked and hooves trimmed, and a haircut and shampoo.

Owner of the donkeys, Mark Ineson, has been running donkey rides along the Golden Mile for 24 years, and keeps 14 of his 20 donkeys at a farm in Wakefield.

Claire Farnsworth giving Trooper a haircut as the donkeys prepare for their Blackpool summer season.

Like many, he developed his love for Blackpool and donkey rides after visiting for holidays as a child.

Apart from a brief respite when he was allowed to do donkey rides last July and August, Mark was unable to do any of the galas, fetes or agricultural shows he normally would.

The lockdown forced him to claim universal credit for the first time in his life.

He had to try to live on £400 a month while ensuring the donkeys were getting fed and looked after in the way they were accustomed to, he said.

Farrier Mark Armstrong works on Mark Ineson's Blackpool Beach donkeys, who are preparing for their summer season. Picture: Tony Johnson
Farrier Mark Armstrong works on Mark Ineson’s Blackpool Beach donkeys, who are preparing for their summer season. Picture: Tony Johnson

“People see donkeys on the beach and just think they walk up and down and do rides,” Mark added.

“They don’t understand there’s a story with every donkey.

“They don’t understand the amount of time and effort that goes into preparation. We’re hoping for a busy season and that events build up again.

Equine dental technician Robert Ruddy checks over the donkeys preparing to go back to work. Picture: Tony Johnson
Equine dental technician Robert Ruddy checks over the donkeys preparing to go back to work. Picture: Tony Johnson


Knife arch is rolled out in Blackpool as part of Operation Sceptre knife crime week

Blackpool Gazette: Blackpool A&E crisis cases top UK list - Parliament Street

A knife arch has been rolled out in Blackpool as part of a national knife crime week

Blackpool Police officers with the knife arch on Lytham Road

Officers from Blackpool Police were using the metal detector machine on Lytham Road in South Shore yesterday and on Tuesday – once at the junction of Waterloo Road and once at the junction of Bloomfield Road.

A total of 104 people passed through the knife arch and 12 people were also searched during the operation.

A 30-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply drugs and after officers found 20 wraps of crack cocaine and £300 in cash.

Arrests were also made on nearby streets – one person on suspicion of possession with intent to supply a class B drug and another on suspicion of possession of a bladed article and possession with intent to supply a class A drug.

Through these arrests officer seized 21 wraps of crack cocaine, three wraps of heroin and a flick knife.

Temp Det Sgt Nick Trangmar of Blackpool Police said the knife arch is just one of a number of different initiatives being carried out across the resort.

He said: “Today and yesterday we’ve had the knife arch out and it’s been a really good way to engage with the community and educate people surrounding knife crime and the dangers they can bring.

A man goes through the metal detector

“We did have some good results yesterday, involving one arrest where someone was arrested for possession with intent to supply crack cocaine with wraps of crack cocaine and large currency cash being seized.

“Moving on from the knife arch, later on we’ll be out in some plain clothes and vehicles targeting the areas where we believe there might be some knife crime.

“It’s an opportunity for us to be proactive, to work with the community, engage with them and advise them about knife crime and educate them. Hopefully this sort of thing can prevent any serious incidents from happening in the future.

“There has been a good interaction with the community and for the most part everyone’s been positive. They’ve been keen to know what’s going on and the feedback has been really good. It’s been really good chance to listen to the community and work with them.”

Following reaction on social media with people concerned officers were going to force members of the public to go through the arch, Blackpool Police said going through the metal detector was not compulsory.

A spokesman for Blackpool Police said: “It is voluntary to go through the knife arch but if people refuse and we have grounds for suspicion then we do have the power to carry out a search.”

They added: “We are committed to keeping our communities safe and tackling violent crime is a priority for us. We’ll continue to work throughout the year, using all powers at our disposal in areas where we identify there is an issue.”

The metal detector is not compulsory for people to go through