Fears revaluation of Blackpool's Houndshill shopping centre could impact regeneration plans
The value of Blackpool's Houndshill shopping centre has been hit by struggles on the high street - prompting speculation about the potential impact on the next phase of town centre regeneration in the resort.
Land on Tower Street is earmarked for phase two of the centre - including the relocation of Wilko's from Talbot Road to make way for the construction of a tram interchange and hotel as part of the £22m extension of the tramway up Talbot Road.
But New Frontier Properties, which bought the Houndshill for £105m in 2015, has now valued the complex, which is anchored by Debenhams, at £70.2m prompting concerns about its future.
The acquisition was funded through a combination of debt funding, in the sum of approximately £59.7m, which was secured from Deutsche Pfandbriefbank AG.
However both the council and New Frontier say the phase two development is still progressing.
In a recent trading statement, New Frontier said it continued "to actively manage its assets in a challenging retail environment" caused by factors including "a fall in consumer confidence, increased costs and declining national footfall impacted by a shift in shopping habits."
In September 2017, BCC Eiffel Ltd (the trading name used by New Frontier for its Blackpool business) was granted planning permission for the second phase of the Houndshill Centre including retail space and a cinema complex on land currently occupied by the Tower Street car park.
Within its trading statement it adds "good progress" is being made on the development "and we hope to commence development within the next six months."
The council owns the Wilko’s building whose lease runs out in 12 months time. It is then due to be bulldozed to make way for a new tram terminal, linked to a proposed Holiday Inn hotel and Blackpool North Station.
Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said he was concerned uncertainty surrounding the Houndshill Centre could delay the project.
He said: " I am seriously concerned about the lack of progress in regard to completing the tram extension, Wilko's move to the Houndshill Centre and the subsequent demolition of their existing site combined with the supposed new Holiday Inn development, also the failure to start construction on the promised IMAX cinema on Coronation Street.
"Something is obviously seriously wrong. The company which owns the Houndshill is in debt to an international bank and I suspect that might be behind the delays."
Alan Cavill, director of communications and regeneration at the council, said there could be a delay of three or four months to the tramway extension.
But he said the scheme was still going ahead.
He said: "It is still our plan and desire to build the Houndshill extension but we have to do our due diligence on the current situation.
"We have made the Growth Deal aware of this and we are all doing our best to make it happen."
It is hoped the £22m tramway extension, which is being largely funded through the Government's Growth Deal, will be operational by the end of 2020.