Regeneration delays are 'damaging' Blackpool claims Tory leader

The proposed Holiday Inn
The proposed Holiday Inn
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Blackpool's Conservative opposition leader has warned delays in the town's regeneration are sending "the wrong message out to potential investors".

Coun Tony Williams asked for a formal audit of key projects including the conference centre and the tramway in June this year after it emerged both projects had overrun after originally being due for completion in spring this year.

Coun Tony Williams

Coun Tony Williams

A report was brought to the last meeting of the council's tourism, economy and scrutiny committee.

It said work is now due to begin next April to demolish the Wilko's store on Talbot Road making way for construction including a Holiday Inn hotel and the new tram terminus due to open in early 2022.

The conference centre is now due to open in July 2020 instead of this year while completion of the tramway has also been delayed but is due to be operational by spring 2021.

Coun Williams said the delays were damaging the town's reputation.

He said: "After I had requested a full scrutiny into the major developments in the town it came as no surprise to learn the new conference centre has been delayed by a considerable amount of time.

"Delays are being blamed on the complex issues regarding marrying the two buildings together.

"However, it's no secret there have been some differences of opinions between the designer and the construction company which have caused serious delays, delays that must surely cost a huge amount of money.

"The fact the very first conference to be held there is now going to be moved to other locations doesn’t send out positive messages to other organisations wanting to use the facility."

Coun Williams said stalling of other projects, including the start of Houndshill phase two to deliver a replacement Wilko's store, "do nothing to help sending out positive messages to investors and visitors".

The council's director of regeneration Alan Cavill told the tourism, economy and communities scrutiny committee "significant progress" was now being made on key regeneration projects.

A timetable is now in place for the Holiday Inn construction, agreements are in place for office development as part of the next phase of the Talbot Gateway and work is progressing to find a new site for the magistrates court as part of the Central Station development.