£600k boost for historic Blackpool landmarks

Part of the grant will go towards the Grand Theatre
Part of the grant will go towards the Grand Theatre
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Two of Blackpool's most important heritage assets have been given a £600,000 boost after a successful bid for funding from Historic England.

The money will be used to improve the Church Street frontages of the Winter Gardens and the Grand Theatre, both of which are Grade ll* listed buildings.

Some will also go towards enhanced cultural offers and could include a virtual reality style experience.

Residents will have a strong say in how the money is spent through the involvement of community groups including the Winter Gardens Trust, Blackpool Civic Trust and Friends of the Grand.

Carl Carrington, head of planning and conservation at Blackpool Council which made the bid, said: "We're really excited about this and it's a project that means the community is going to be involved.

"We have a really good reputation with Historic England and other agencies for delivering high quality work in the built environment.

"It will also give community organisations opportunity to work together giving them a more powerful voice."

The full details of the three-year scheme have yet to be decided, but the cultural aspect could involve pop-up performances from shows being staged in the venues.

Shops and units at the front of the Winter Gardens could be restored to reflect the history of the landmark.

Mr Carrington added: "It is about creating new reasons for people to go into these buildings, and something like a short outdoor performance from one of the shows might be a way of encouraging more people in."

The funding is from the High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme and will be added to by the council.

The aim is to secure lasting improvements to historic high streets and the communities who use them.

One project could be to install innovative technology providing a virtual reality experience showing how areas such as St John's Square have changed over the years.

Detailed plans for the scheme are expected to be submitted by next January.