New gateway works to start

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WORK on new council offices and a supermarket in Blackpool town centre is on schedule to begin later this year.

Blackpool Council will start the tendering process for the construction of its offices – part of phase one of the long-awaited £250m Talbot Gateway – this summer.

Meanwhile, the succcessful applicant for the 90,000 square foot foodstore is expected to be known soon with the bidding process due to reach a conclusion shortly.

John Donnellon, assistant director for planning, housing and transportation, told a meeting of the tourism and regeneration overview and scrutiny committee the foodstore and offices would begin “more or less at the same time” with builders on site in late 2011.

He said: “The council is committed to new offices. The key aim is to make it value for money for the council and to have a knock on effect for the town centre and bring the right kind of spenders into town.”

He added there were four “strong” candidates to operate the supermarket.

A new bid is also being made for funding to pay for the public realm aspects of the redevelopment of the area around North Station.

There was dismay last year when the Northwest Development Agency withdrew £20m from the scheme after its budgets were slashed.

A bid for replacement funding is set to be made this month to the new Regional Growth Fund.

The council already owns more than three quarters of the land it needs for the full Gateway scheme, and last week councillors approved an application for a compulsory purchase order for the acquisition of the remainder of the site.

However, it is hoped that will not be needed if the site can be acquired by negotiation.

Phase One of the scheme, which is being developed in partnership with Muse, also includes refurbishment of the Talbot Road bus station.

The £28m cost of the new council offices is being met through the sale of other council buildings including Westgate House in South Shore and Progress House in Marton. Workers are already being relocated in readiness for the sale of properties.

It is estimated moving out of the old buildings will save about £240,000 a year because the modern building, which will be open plan, will be cheaper to run.