Proposed Blackpool sports village to include 3G all weather sports pitches, grass football pitches and indoor tennis courts

The next Sir Andy Murray or Laura Robson could well be from Blackpool if plans for a new indoor tennis centre and gym in the resort come to fruition.

By Shelagh Parkinson
Monday, 4th February 2019, 6:24 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:14 pm
An aerial view of Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone
An aerial view of Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone

Tennis fans will be excited at the prospect that a new sports village development could serve up brand new facilities for them to use.

Blackpool currently has just one indoor court – at South Shore Tennis Club, on Midgeland Road.

Bosses at Blackpool Enterprise Zone are looking at including the facilities at part of the new Common Edge Sports Village, although any plans are still at an early stage.

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An aerial view of Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone

Consultants are working up ideas to include two 3G all weather sports pitches, grass football pitches, changing facilities and social club-style accommodation for the various sports clubs.

A report by Rob Green, head of enterprise zones at Blackpool Council, also adds: “The potential inclusion of an indoor tennis facility and gym are being evaluated.”

The tennis courts would be dependant on the council securing external funding, with a bid to the Lawn Tennis Association one possibility.

Mr Green said planning applications will be made in the coming months for phase one of the enterprise zone.

In his report to the next meeting of the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Economic Prosperity Board, on Tuesday, he says an outline planning application for the main phase one site is expected to be submitted to Blackpool and Fylde councils next month with a decision expected in June.

Full planning applications for the sports hub and a new access road from Common Edge Road are due to be submitted shortly after outline consent is hopefully approved.

Blackpool Council has already committed to borrowing £28.8m – as local authorities can access cheaper rates of loans than private firms – to get the zone started with infrastructure and building work.

Work is also progressing to agree a bespoke 40,000 sq ft manufacturing facility as part of phase one, with a planning application targeted for April or May. Meanwhile two developments, the 20,000 sq ft unit for Fylde Coast Accident Repair Centre (ARC) and a new electricity generation facility are now due to be operational by April.

Mr Green also sets out plans for investment in Blackpool Airport itself, with work underway to commission a new instrument landing system and other navigational aids “to maintain the airport’s operational capability”.

This includes supporting the off-shore helicopter operations, with the main contractor Spirit Energy indicating its “willingness to renew its contracts for a further five years”.

The enterprise zone is expected to require £70m funding over its 25 year lifetime.

Coun Lily Henderson, who has supported free tennis for children in South Shore for a number of years, said she would welcome in indoor tennis centre as part of the proposed sports hub.

She said: “Myself and Coun Peter Hunter in Highfield ward have used some of our ward funding for a number of years to pay for free tennis for children at Highfield Park.

“In the winter, we pay for sessions at the one indoor tennis court Blackpool currently has at South Shore Tennis Club.

“I’m a great believer that tennis should be a sport for everyone. An indoor tennis centre might help many more children from Blackpool, and across the Fylde coast, get the chance to play the sport.

“The council has held meetings with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) in the past about funding, but it did not come to anything.

“Hopefully this plan will get support from the LTA and we can ensure more people get chance to play this great game.”