WORK to transform part of Blackpool town centre is finally officially under way.
Contractors and council staff gathered on the site of the £220m new Central Business District to mark the start of the first phase of the huge project.
It has taken nearly seven years to make the scheme a reality, with ambitions to rejuvenate the area around Blackpool North Station stretching back even further.
Almost 800 jobs will be created - 364 during construction and 400 at the Sainsbury’s supermarket.
Andy Barton, project manager for the council’s development partner Muse, will oversee construction of new council offices and the supermarket, the remodelling of the Talbot Road multi-storey car park, and infrastructure including a new public square.
He said: “I have worked on the project for six-and-a-half years so we’re very pleased to be cracking on.
“Having four sites working at the same time is a challenge but our aim is to minimise disruption to the town and carry out the work as cleanly and efficiently as possible.
“We are in the process, in conjunction with our contractors, of working with the college and schemes such as Blackpool Build Up, so we can get as many local jobs from the construction phase as possible.
“Our aim is to spend as much of the money from the scheme, within Blackpool.
“Wherever possible materials will be sourced as locally as possible.”
Around 900 council workers are expected to relocate to the new council offices on George Street when they are completed in Spring 2014.
They will transfer from edge-of-town locations such as Progress House, which will be sold to meet some of the £22m cost of the new civic building.
Lesley Stowells, who works in children’s services, said: “Everyone is very excited about the prospect of moving to the new building.
“It will be better working conditions for staff and more accessible for our customers.”
Jennifer Cordwell, who works in property and IT, said: “All the workers will be going out into the town centre during their lunch hours and using the local shops so it will bring the area alive.”