Foundations are now being laid for Blackpool’s new £25m conference and exhibition centre at the Winter Gardens, writes ANNA CRYER.
The demolition work has been completed and services have been diverted to allow for the development.
“In the next few weeks, people will start to see a real change on the site,” Michael Williams, Winter Gardens managing director, said.
“The frame will start to be built, which will be a real milestone in the scheme and it will progress very quickly from then like a big jigsaw puzzle.”
Connections in to the Empress Ballroom and the ballroom foyer will be forged in the summer, and fixtures and fittings are already being selected and ordered.
The first event which will make use of the centre will be the Blackpool Dance Festival in May next year.
The centre is already taking bookings for summer 2019, and is being showcased at major industry event International Confex this week.
The 2,000-capacity extension to the Grade II-listed Winter Gardens complex is at the heart of a new ‘connected Blackpool’, bringing together the improved rail connections to Preston, extended tram lines and six new hotels.
The piling rig has during the past week started to lay foundations at the site, on the Leopold Grove side of the Winter Gardens, rising from what was once a car park.
This year is the 140th anniversary of the Winter Gardens, which already features a range of conference spaces such as the Empress Ballroom and Olypmia Exhibition Hall.
With the new centre, the venue will be able to accommodate 7,000 delegates across 12 venues in total.