Decision looms for £25m centre

Proposals for a £25m new conference centre in Blackpool look set to win planning permission.

Thursday, 22nd September 2016, 10:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 2:04 pm
An artists impression of how the conference centre may look

The application to build the complex on the side of the Winter Gardens opening onto Leopold Grove is recommended for approval when it goes before the council’s planning committee on Tuesday.

Outline plans show a double height entrance foyer with exhibition space on the first floor.

Above this on the second floor would be a large uninterrupted space capable of hosting major conferences of up to 2,000 people.

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Also proposed are new public areas outside which would be created by setting back the entrance from the road and angling the first two storeys inward.

The ground floor would link through to the Empress Ballroom, and also accommodate loading bays and storage areas.

A report to councillors says: “The proposal will strengthen the offer, viability and long term future of the Winter Gardens and will significantly assist in the regeneration of the town centre.”

Architects have been appointed to draw up more detailed plans.

Heritage chiefs say they have no objection to the scheme with both Blackpool Civic Trust and the Theatres Trust supporting the application.

A response from the Theatres Trust says it is supportive of the “conceptual scheme as it has clear benefits for the wider use and operation of the Winter Gardens and its ability to attract new business and therefore investment in the upkeep of this unique important heritage asset.”

The council is bidding for £18m from the Government’s Growth Deal fund and the Coastal Communities Fund towards the project which is being prioritised by the Lancashire Economic Partnership.

The extension would link into the existing Grade II-listed Winter Gardens buildings and involves the demolition of some existing back-of-house buildings including a two-storey box extension on the rear of the Empress Ballroom.

A multi-storey car park on Leopold Grove has already been removed.