£2.9m added to conference centre pot

Updated artists impression of a proposed new conference centre for Blackpool (30/11/16)
Updated artists impression of a proposed new conference centre for Blackpool (30/11/16)
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Government chiefs today confirmed Blackpool is to receive £2.9m in additional funding towards its £25m new conference centre.

The latest cash boost comes from the Coastal Communities Fund and follows on from January’s announcement of £15m towards the project from the Government’s Growth Deal.

Simon Blackburn

Simon Blackburn

It means work can now begin this autumn to start building the conference centre on the side of the Winter Gardens, overlooking Leopold Grove.

It is due to open in 2019 and will bring the overall capacity of the Grade II listed building to 7,000 delegates.

The latest boost is part of £40m of funding for more than 30 coastal projects announced by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced today.

Blackpool’s is the biggest grant to be made in this round of funding.

Coun Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “Today’s announcement is excellent news and is another step forward in turning this conference centre in to a reality.

“Our bids to both the Coastal Communities Fund and the Growth Deal have been extremely strong and I am very glad that both of them have seen the positive impact that this will have on the town, creating more jobs and boosting our local economy.

“Major conferences in Blackpool bring thousands of delegates in the town centre, who in turn spend money in our local shops, restaurants and hotels, helping our businesses thrive and allowing them to take on new workers.

“Now that funding is being allocated and the planning permission granted, I am keen that this work starts as soon as possible and we are already having conversations about attracting major conferences back to the resort ready for its opening in 2019.”

It is hoped Blackpool will be able to attract the major political conferences once more.

There is already planning permission in place for a hotel in Leopold Grove which would link directly to the Winter Gardens thus offering the level of security required to host the main political parties.

Further funding for the conference centre will come from the council’s own coffers, including from revenue generated by the Winter Gardens which the council owns.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We’re backing the Great British Coast with £40m to create new jobs, boost economic growth and increase tourism.

“There’s a range of exciting projects set to benefit across the country, from a new conference centre for Blackpool to new beach huts and lifeguards for Hastings.

“This new funding will help attract even more tourists to our coast and help our seaside towns and coastal areas thrive.”

Since 2012, the Government has invested £120m in projects through the Coastal Communities Fund across the UK.

Among other North West projects to receive funding this time round are Southport Pier.