A brand new tramway terminal could be the centre of the £7.8m second phase of the Talbot Gateway Central Business District – and an eyesore building demolished in the process.
Blackpool Council is set to agree terms to purchase the Wilkinson’s building on Talbot Road, expanding the current business district area and developing a terminal for the new tramway extension to Blackpool North train station.
The council’s executive will consider the proposals when it meets on April 4.
The move would help expand the business district, improving the look of the Talbot Gateway and creating an interchange between train and tram travel.
All three developments have improved the look of the once derelict area which is the first impression for tourists and commuters arriving via Blackpool North train station.
Some of the units from the first stage of development are yet to be taken up.
It now leaves the Wilkinson’s site opposite the station as the next building that needs developing in order to complete the metropolitan new look.
Construction on the tramway extension is expected to start in 2018, with development of the terminal expected to be ready in line with the completion of the scheme.
Discussions with the Homes and Communities Agency about developing parts of the site for residential use are taking place.
Purchasing and preparing the site for development is expected to cost a maximum of £7.8m, although the final figure is expected to be lower.
While development plans are put in place for the new terminal, the site would continue to be used to house the three current occupiers, the APCOA multi-storey car park, the Age UK retail store and the Wilkinson’s retail outlet.
As part of an agreement with Wilkinson’s, its current lease would be made short term and until a new development which has been approved on Tower Street car park has been completed.
Coun Fred Jackson, Blackpool Council’s Cabinet Member for Municipal Assets, today welcomed the move, saying: “The first phase of the Talbot Gateway has seen a run down, dilapidated area transformed into an excellent first impression for people coming to Blackpool.
“At the same time, it has brought over one thousand workers into the town centre, helping the nearby local businesses and creating new jobs. However, the Wilkinson’s building now sticks out like a sore thumb and needs transforming in to somewhere that can help the business district thrive.
“Extending the tramline to the station will make it easier for commuters and tourists to move between the two and will also provide more opportunities to increase our visitor numbers – in turn creating more jobs and boosting the local economy.
“There is no escaping that this is a large amount of money to borrow, especially at a time when the Government’s funding cuts make it more difficult for us to deliver day-to-day services.
“However, we only borrow money that we know that we can repay. The current occupiers of the building will provide rent and parking revenue that will help to repay the prudential borrowing costs while we prepare to develop the site.
“We cannot stand still and hope that Blackpool will grow without our help. We have to continue to be ambitious and enterprising to drive the town forward in ways that will increase jobs for our local people and improve the economic conditions for businesses.
“This is a tremendously large piece of work but I’m convinced the end product will be something that the town will look back on and be proud of.”
Mike Horner, regional director for Muse Developments, added: “The acquisition of the Wilkinson’s building is great news - it provides us with the opportunity to demolish an old town centre eyesore.”
£22m tram extension work starts – and funding case is being prepared
Preparatory work on the £22m tramline extension is currently taking place, with a business case for the money to be presented to the Transport for Lancashire and Lancashire Enterprise Partnership in the next few weeks.
If all plans are approved the extended tramline would go up Talbot Road from the Promenade before travelling away from the current highway at the junction of Dickson Road as it joins the new tram terminal.
The work for the next stage of the Central Business District will will be carried out by Muse.
Mike Horner, regional director for the developer, said: “The acquisition of Wilkinson’s is great news – it provides us with the opportunity to demolish an old town centre eyesore and replace it with a modern terminus .”