First look at work finally underway at the £300m Blackpool Central site

It might just look like a huge hole - but the site being dug out in Central Car Park represents a historic milestone for Blackpool.

By Shelagh Parkinson
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 2:45 pm

For 58 years after Central Station closed, construction began just after Easter to bring investment to the key location behind the Promenade.

Contractor Ballast Nedam is now well on with work to level up the site and start putting in foundations for a seven-storey car park with 1,306 spaces.

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Update on £300m Blackpool Central development site

It is due to be completed next summer, and will kick start further phases of the £300m Blackpool Central leisure destination.

A first look at the site illustrates the magnitude of the task - but developers say the massive project is on track.

Once the car park is open, the next phase will be the conversion of buildings on Central Drive into a Heritage Quarter and construction of a public square.

Darren Jones, development director at Nikal which is behind the project, said the focus is now on unlocking the rest of the site.

Work underway to build the car park at the £300m Blackpool Central development site

He said: "We are working with our technical design teams on future phases including the Heritage Quarter.

"This includes getting everything priced, and having the funding in place."

He said funding would be sought for each part of the scheme, but Nikal was "very confident" of investors coming forward given the strong level of interest there had been in funding the car park

Mr Jones added: "When you are getting 16 to 18 million visitors a year as Blackpool does, it's a place of interest.

Russell Simmons, managing director of Ballast Nedam, coun Lynn Williams and Darren Jones, director at Nikal.

"We are working with both the council and MPs to deliver as soon as we can, we have got advisers regarding our letting strategy and in terms of what will go into the development.

"We are cracking on and doing something very different. People have been waiting a long time, over 50 years, for something to happen on this site."

Russell Simmons, managing director of Ballast Nedam, said the car park was being built using a modular system which future-proofed the structure.

He said people could expect to see the frame up by the end of this year, with work on course for completion by next summer.

Digging out the foundations for the car park at the £300m Blackpool Central development site

Mr Simmons added: "Unfortunately with construction there is disruption, but we haven't had any negativity.

"People have been coming up to the site and saying it's great to see there is something happening.

"We are using local contractors and suppliers, and right from the design stage it has been a really positive project."

Once construction is completed the car park will be handed over to the council which will operate it.

It has been funded through a deal with one of the UK’s biggest pension funds the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and is part of the £32m enabling phase of the project.

Full planning permission was granted last October for the car park, along with work to convert and upgrade buildings on Central Drive including the King Edward cinema, King Edward pub and King Edward apartments into holiday accommodation, restaurants and bars as part of the Heritage Quarter.

Update on £300m Blackpool Central development site

Outline planning was also approved for three indoor theme parks, a 200-room hotel plus bars, restaurants and outdoor entertainment space.

Update on £300m Blackpool Central development site