Council’s multi-million pound store bid

Wilkinsons, Talbot Road
Wilkinsons, Talbot Road
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TOWN hall chiefs are set to make a multi-million pound bid for a town centre store.

Blackpool Council is to consider buying the Wilkinson’s site on Talbot Road which is on the market for £5.5m.

Regeneration chiefs see the site as key to the £220m redevelopment of the Central Business District.

It had been earmarked for acquisition as part of future phases of the scheme, but bosses believe the depressed state of the property market presents the opportunity to purchase the site at a lower price.

It would be funded by prudential borrowing.

The council’s executive is being asked to agree to the opening of negotiations on behalf of the council and development partner Muse.

Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “The council owns a sizeable property portfolio, which I am keen to put to the best possible use.

“Some sites and buildings have been in our ownership for many years, others have been more recent acquisitions.

“Either way, I expect them to make a decent return for the taxpayer.

“As and when it is prudent to do so, and providing a solid business case is put forward, it is in the taxpayer’s interest for the council to purchase key strategic sites such as the one in question.

“This is part of a strategy of prudent investment, rationalisation and value for money, which will benefit the town and its residents in both the short and long terms.”

Any deal would be on the basis of the building being leased back to Wilkinson’s.

A report to the executive says: “The site had previously been identified as a key acquisition within the Central Business District development scheme.

“This opportunity will enable Blackpool Council to control the future development of a 1.5 acre island site in a strategic location opposite Blackpool North Railway Station and therefore linking the Central Business District scheme to the retail areas on the edge of the town centre.”

Planning permission is already in place for a Sainsbury’s store and new council offices as part of the Central Business District.