New shop fronts approved at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens

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Work to upgrade the historic front of the Grade II* listed Winter Gardens is set to proceed after being backed by heritage chiefs and council planners.

 

The scheme will see shop units in the Empress Buildings overlooking St John’s Square restored to as close as possible to their original state.

A council planning report said the investment seeks “to unify the existing ground floor frontage which at present is made up of a row of shop fronts which differ in design and appearance and do not relate well to the upper floors of the buildings.”

It is proposed to install new shopfronts using hardwood timber, with large windows and awnings “to achieve an active and open frontage”.

The Empress Buildings

The Empress Buildings

The planning application, which was approved using delegated powers, was supported by the Blackpool Civic Trust, the Theatres Trust and the council’s own built heritage manager.

A statement from the Theatres Trust said : “The plans seek to revert the shopfronts which form part of the Winter Gardens complex back to a traditional style with hardwood timber frames which would unify them, as they are currently of contrasting and insensitive styles which detracts from the significance of the complex and the wider setting.

“The proposals do not impact on the operation and function of the theatre and performance spaces within the Winter Gardens and would enhance the buildings’ appearance and contribute towards efforts to revitalise the wider area.”

Funding for the work has come from the council’s £7.84m Quality Corridors project which is funded through the Growth Deal.

That includes the £2.3m Property Improvement Scheme which has helped upgrade the external appearance of more than 20 properties on Topping Street, Church Street, Talbot Road, Cedar Square, Deansgate and Edward Street.

The Empress Buildings were constructed in 1894 as four bays set either side of a wide central bay which formerly contained an arched entrance to the Empress Ballroom.