Dawn of a new era for the resort

Blackpool town centre.
Blackpool town centre.
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A masterplan to transform Blackpool town centre and kick-start growth across the resort can today be revealed.

Town hall bosses have outlined a bold six-point ‘vision’ for the next 15 years of the town’s future, aimed at revitalising shops, supporting businesses and drawing in more people than ever.

The action plan outlines how the town will:

• Attract more national brands and companies

• Support small and independent traders

• Revitalise the town’s transport links

The plan, one of the biggest overhauls in the town centre’s history, is the first time all the elements of planned redevelopment have been brought together in a single plan.

In the coming days The Gazette will outline in detail the different aspects of the proposals. Among the key aspects are plans to enable the second phase of the Houndshill Centre to go ahead, extend the tramway up Talbot Road and create a new arrival hub at Blackpool North Station.

Also included are plans to relocate the police station and law courts to make way for the long-awaited redevelopment of the old Central Station site.

Coun Gary Coleman, cabinet member for regeneration and urban development on Blackpool Council, said: “The town centre strategy outlines a long-term vision for the next 15 years.

“It is straightforward, acknowledges the town centre’s strengths and weaknesses and sets out a plan to tackle key problems.

“The key aim we’ve identified is to improve business confidence in order to encourage investment to help our local economy grow which is vital to the economic prosperity of Blackpool as well as the Fylde coast as a whole.

“We ultimately want to see a Blackpool that is as a centre for shopping, culture, leisure, commerce and entertainment with icons like Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens at its heart. “

The plan comes after council chiefs identified that Blackpool must do more to compete with rival shopping destinations.

Currently, the town’s residents spend around £316m every year on non-food goods –but town leaders say more is needed. The plan is today revealed just days after Merlin chief executive Nick Varney said now was the time for Blackpool to ‘go global’ are market its attractions on an international stage.

Philip Welsh, head of partnerships and development at the council, said the strategy was about taking a broader look at the town centre. Among the goals is to develop a stronger
 early evening economy.

He said: “The action plan is about starting to deliver change and looking at the things that will drive footfall back into the town centre and re-establish Blackpool at the heart of the Fylde coast.

“It is about having a vibrant town centre and accepting retail is not the only driving force as to why people might visit.

“One thing we are trying to develop is a better early evening economy, which a lot of vibrant city centres have.

“As part of that there is a drive to create new high quality office accommodation in the town centre, as in cities it is often the office workers who stay on after work to go for a drink or something to eat.”

A steering group made up of a number of partners has been established to lead the strategy.

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