Exciting things are on the horizon for resort in 2017

A new conference centre, tramway extension, hundreds of new homes, police station and college are all on their way.

Monday, 2nd January 2017, 9:36 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 1:01 pm
An artists impressions of how the new conference centre could look

The start of 2017 sees Blackpool on the cusp of reaching the next stage of regeneration.

A new conference centre and an extension of the tramway are among projects within grasp.

Hundreds of new homes are set to be built in the town while investment in hotels and leisure facilities is also in the pipeline.

Artists impression of the proposed new hotel in Bickerstaffe Square

Work is already underway on more than £30m of new public buildings - a police station and an energy college.

The council is hoping for funding through the Government’s Growth Deal for a £25m conference centre set to be built alongside the Winter Gardens.

Also expected in the new year is a decision from the Transport Secretary on the £22m tram track linking North Pier with North Station.

The latter would also kickstart the £31m second phase of the Talbot Gateway including a new hotel and tram terminal linked to the train station by an underground pedestrian walkway.

An artists impression of trams in Talbot Square

Coun Mark Smith, cabinet member for economic development on Blackpool Council, said: “I think Blackpool is strongly placed going into 2017 and hopefully we will see a number of projects moving forward such as phase two of the Talbot Gateway and the Wilkinson’s development at the Houndshill site.

“We are also looking at the museum project and how that can fit in with operations inside the Winter Gardens.

“The council’s ability to borrow at low interest rates means we can support developments coming forward.

“But Blackpool isn’t just a tourist town, and there is also a lot going on behind the scenes.

An artist's impression of Blackpool new police headquarters

“Laila’s Fine Foods at Bispham has been investing in its business and even some of the smaller shopping districts are seeing a turnaround.

“We also have the Enterprise Zone coming along with businesses looking to build there.”

Planning permission was granted in 2016 for the second phase of the Houndshill shopping centre which would see the relocation of Wilkinson’s and the building of a 56-bedroom hotel.

Other hotel schemes with planning approval include a 96-bedroom proposal within a three-storey extension of The Sands entertainment venue on the Golden Mile.

Blackpool Councillor Coun Mark Smith

Meanwhile progress is expected on the conversion of the former Post Office on Abingdon Street to hotel and leisure use.

Derelict buildings on South Promenade, including the Palm Beach Hotel, have recently been demolished to make way for an £8.5m development including a Hamptons by Hilton hotel.

Although it will not be ready until 2018, work has begun on a £16.25m rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Meanwhile hundreds of new homes are being built with the next phase of the Foxhall Village underway and the first of 584 houses earmarked for Marton Moss, off Progress Way, starting to be built.

In other projects, work has started on building a £21m police station on the old Progress House site on Clifton Road, Marton, while the £9.8m energy college at Blackpool Airport is taking shape.

It is set to be the lynch-pin of the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone which aims to create around 3,000 jobs.

An artist's impression of how Blackpool and The Fylde College's energy HQ might look

Industry leaders today said they felt Blackpool was on the brink of a fresh wave of investment optimism.

Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said: “We are looking forward to a full and exciting year.

“I am hoping the increase in visitor numbers will continue with all that’s going on with Brexit.

“There is a lot in the pipeline - a new ride at the Pleasure Beach, the Blackpool Museum and a possible tramway extension.

“If we can move forward with the conference centre that would bring a different kind of visitor to the town in the form of business people.

“There is a lot to look forward to and I can’t think of anywhere else which offers a much as we do.”

Among private investment moving forward is the converson of the former Post Office on Abingdon Street to a 50-bedroom hotel with a mezzanine courtyard boasting restaurants, shops and cafe bars.

The proposals are being put together by husband and wife team Joe and Kelly Thompson of Thompson Contracts who bought the Grade II listed building in November 2015

Mr Thompson said: “We have now appointed the full professional team with a view to them working up a detailed set of construction drawings by the end of March 2017.

“We will then look to tender the main contract works with an anticipated start on site in June and a 40 week build programme taking us through to 2018, for commencement of circa 10 weeks of tenant fit out and, the scheme then opening that summer.”

Mr Thompson said there was already interest in the building.

He added: “I’ve met with a couple of marketing companies and will look to have a glossy brochure produced for March ready to send out to potential tenants.

“Some initial inquiries and expressions of 
interest have been received but I’m not in a position to disclose any names at this stage.

“I see a lot of reasons to be positive with Blackpool’s current evolution - conferencing facilities, quality hotels and transport infrastructure projects both from private investors and well placed involvement by the council.

“It feels like we’re on the cusp of something great and it’s exciting to see the potential our town has.”

The £50m Foxhall Village has already seen land off Rigby Road partly transformed into a new neighbourhood.

Work has now started on the next phase, with 400 homes due to make up the full scheme.

Rik Faircloth, development manager at Hollinwood Homes, said: “The fact the first phase has sold out has shown there is a demand for quality, affordable housing in Blackpool, and work is now underway on the second phase.

“This £50m regeneration scheme is transforming a 
disused piece of land and breathing new life into the area by creating a new community, in addition to playing a key role in supporting 
wider investment into the town.

“Foxhall Village is attracting people from out of the town to come to live and work in Blackpool, providing jobs for local people, boosting the economy, and injecting a sense of renewed optimism about the area.

“Many of our residents say Blackpool’s attractions and amenities are what appeals to them about settling here so it’s important to build on this, continue investing in the town and keep enhancing its good reputation.”

Artists impression of the proposed new hotel in Bickerstaffe Square
An artists impression of trams in Talbot Square
An artist's impression of Blackpool new police headquarters
Blackpool Councillor Coun Mark Smith
An artist's impression of how Blackpool and The Fylde College's energy HQ might look