Blackpool post-Covid efforts to become ‘first choice shopping destination’

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A £50,000 strategy is being produced to help transform Blackpool for a post-Covid world

 

Views over Blackpool
Views over Blackpool (Image: Getty Images)

A new vision is being sought for Blackpool town centre as part of the resort’s post-pandemic recovery.

Blackpool Council is seeking consultants to help produce a £50,000 strategy “that reflects the needs of a modern coastal town centre”. The scheme will be paid for out of the government’s Welcome Back Fund, which saw Blackpool awarded £233,000.

A brief setting out the requirements of the project says it will cover a 15 year period of town centre development “facilitating its recovery in a post-pandemic landscape.”

It is hoped to produce the strategy by March next year. Proposals must address current perceptions of the town centre and outline opportunities for change, including to encourage investment and more diverse activities other than retail.

Blackpool Council, which is advertising for a consultant on North West procurement site The Chest, says for the town centre to be “the first choice shopping destination for Fylde Coast residents” it needs to “carve out a high quality retail offer and combine this with a wider positive leisure, cultural and social experience during the day and into the evening”.

“Exploiting key assets within the town centre – heritage, coastal frontage and popular tourist attractions – and aligning these with innovative developments can help define a distinguishing offer and achieve an attractive, thriving and vibrant town centre.”

It adds: “The public sector alone cannot create vibrant town centres; there is also a role that landlords, retailers and businesses must play. Therefore, we need a strong town centre partnership approach to deliver the strategy.”

Current multi-million pound investment in the town centre includes a new conference centre, branded hotels and an Imax-style cinema as part of an extension to the Houndshill shopping centre.

But efforts to find a new tenant for the former Debenhams unit in the Houndshill have so far failed to come to fruition. The Welcome Back Fund was announced in March this year, with £56m allocated nationally for schemes to entice people back to town centres following the easing of lockdown restrictions.