120 jobs boost as vision for revamp is revealed

An artist's impression of the proposed Tower Lounge exterior
An artist's impression of the proposed Tower Lounge exterior
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A proposed 300-seat flagship restaurant in the resort’s redundant Tower Lounge will spark a jobs bonanza and be a catalyst for town centre regeneration, it was predicted today.

Detailed plans for the £400,000 scheme were unveiled for the first time.

A public bar, outdoor seating and a stand-alone kiosk are part of the scheme to transform the venue at the base of the Tower, which closed last November.

Town hall chiefs want to replace the former ‘vertical drinking’ culture of the club with a family-themed restaurant.

Blackpool Council is borrowing £400,000 to pay for the upgrade.

Bosses are still remaining tight-lipped about who the operator will be, but Iain Hawkins, head of the Merlin cluster of attractions in Blackpool which includes the Tower, said the new attraction will completely transform the feel of the site – and promised revellers “something special”.

And it has been revealed that the new complex will create 120 new roles, made up of 50 full-time roles and an additional 70 part-time positions.

Mr Hawkins added: “The aim is for something of top quality which is really special.

“The restaurant will link in with the day-time attractions and the night-time attractions such as the theatres and bring Blackpool back to where it was.

“It will be really important in terms of the regeneration of Blackpool town centre.

“It will be a safe area for people of all ages to enjoy at night.

“One of the reasons we have taken so long to get the right operator to go in there is that it is so critical that it works with our attractions.

“We have a huge cross section of visitors, from those going to the ballroom to Jungle Jims and the Tower Eye, and it’s important that volume can use the restaurant.”

Discussions with the proposed operator are already advanced and an announcement is expected in four to six weeks.

Manchester-based design company cds-wilman, which has submitted the application, works with companies including John Lewis, Waitrose and Harry Ramsden’s.

In its submission it sets out a raft of goals for the scheme, including to “create a flagship 300 cover restaurant and public access bar” with a stand-alone kiosk on the corner of Victoria Street and the Promenade.

New windows and doors will be installed, areas of the art deco facade will be restored and outdoor seating is also proposed.

A design statement accompanying the application says: “The overall objective is to install a quality offer that will further enhance the customer experience when visiting the Tower.

“We aim to capture the spirit of Blackpool within the restaurant environment to ensure it delivers the customers with a richer and more authentic experience.”

It adds: “The addition of a landmark restaurant in this currently vacant, high profile location will provide a much needed boost to the locality as well as contribute to the existing wide variety of attractions the Tower currently has to offer. It is felt substantial investment into the Tower Lounge redundant nightclub space will act as a catalyst for neighbouring business and development opportunities with the associated area.”

The Tower Lounge had long posed problems for its council owners.

Revellers drinking in the establishment poured out onto Blackpool’s Bank Hey Street shopping thoroughfare, and clashed with the family-friendly offerings in the rest of the Tower complex.