THE multi-million pound first phase of investment in Blackpool town centre has been welcomed by residents.
Work began last month on the £22m council offices as the £220m Talbot Gateway Central Business District finally got under way.
Residents and businesses were invited to an exhibition of the plans yesterday to get updated on the massive scheme which also includes a new Sainsbury’s supermarket.
Diane Goddard, 72, of Caunce Street, Blackpool, said: “We do need a supermarket and it will be great for all the residents who live in the town centre.
“But I wish they would brighten up the buildings and hope they don’t leave it all grey.”
Former hotelier Bob Weston, of Charles Street, central Blackpool, also welcomed the scheme.
He said: “I have lived in Charles Street for 25 years and it used to be a lovely street but in recent times the area has gone downhill.
“So I am so happy to see the Talbot Gateway scheme finally get under way because I think it will help the whole neighbourhood improve.”
Keith and Sylvia Turner, of Annesley Avenue, Layton, said they would definitely use the Sainsbury’s store.
Mr Turner, 76, added: “We’re really looking forward to the supermarket opening and it will be great to see this part of Blackpool rejuvenated.”
Philip Brown, who owns The Holmsdale Hotel in Pleasant Street, said the first phase would be a big improvement for the area around North station.
He said: “To have a supermarket in the town centre will be a big benefit for everyone. If they improve the infrastructure and can cope with the traffic, it will be fine.”
Talbot ward councillor Mark Smith said: “It will enhance the links through the town centre, regenerate the area and hopefully improve the surrounding streets as well.
“There will be some pain in the short term but it will result in a long term benefit.”
Almost 800 jobs will be created from the first phase – 364 during construction and 400 at the Sainsbury’s supermarket.
The council offices are due to be completed by Spring 2014, and the Sainsbury’s is due for completion by December 2013.
Representatives of the contractors were also present at the exhibition at the St John’s Church business centre.