£25m conference plan would be a ‘boost’ for the whole resort

Artists impression of a proposed new conference centre for Blackpool

Artists impression of a proposed new conference centre for Blackpool

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The whole of Blackpool will benefit from a proposed multi-million pound investment in the Winter Gardens, according to the venue’s boss.

Following the unveiling in The Gazette yesterday of a £25m vision to build new conference facilities, managing director Michael Williams said the development would be a huge boost for the economy.

He said: “Every event we host at the Winter Gardens is so important to the town.

“All delegates are staying at a hotel and spending money in shops, restaurants and on taxis.

“The development to create new facilities will give us modern rooms which is very exciting but equally important it will enhance and refurbish the Empress Ballroom and the Opera House.

“It will create connectivity from the new conference centre so delegates can enter the Winter Gardens from Leopold Grove and get straight through to the Floral Hall and the Opera House.

“It will also give us much more flexible and sellable space for conferences, we will have purpose-built exhibition space and there will also be investment in the catering operation.

“There will be the grandeur and character of the Empress Ballroom combined with new facilities.”

The project is subject to successful funding bids to the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and the Coastal Communities Fund.

Mr Williams added: “We are working to ensure when funding is approved, we are ready to go.

“The Winter Gardens, and the town, has been waiting a long time for this so we want to ensure there is no delay.”

A detailed planning application for the new conference centre has been submitted after outline approval was granted in September.

The scheme includes conference space for 1,200 people with additional ground floor exhibition space able to hold around 380 people.

But this will link in with the existing capacity of the Winter Gardens, bringing the total capacity of the complex to more than 7,000.