First glimpse of Blackpool’s £25m conference centre

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As work begins in earnest on Blackpool’s £25m conference centre, new images reveal the state-of-the-art building which will be rising from what was once a car park.

Computer generated images show the main hall able to accommodate up to 2,000 people, boosting the capacity of the Winter Gardens to 7,000 delegates in total.

Wide corridors and an imposing double height entrance foyer look set to create a strong first impression for would-be visitors to the new centre being built at the Leopold Grove side of the Grade II listed complex.

There will be 6,150 square metres of exhibition and conference space in total once the extension is completed. Architects have had the challenge of blending modern materials and design with the Victorian elevations of one of Blackpool’s most important heritage assets.

The images illustrate key detail in the interior layout, right down to restrooms and reception areas.

After the land had been cleared over the last couple of years to make way for redevelopment, contractors moved onto the site at the end of last year to begin the preparatory work for the scheme.

This has included diverting utilities and repairing brickwork on the existing parts of the building.

Groundworks will resume next week, with piling due to start the week after when people will then see the structure rising from the ground.

Coun Mark Smith, cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and economic development on Blackpool Council, said: “The new conference centre connected to the Winter Gardens is going to enhance the facilities and the offer we have for the conference business.

“We can then encourage more conference trade to come here and that’s part of the aspiration we have of helping to create a better Blackpool.

“These images show the quality of development we want and as a council we are always pushing developers to deliver the best they can for the finances available.

“Second best is not any option, and this is a modern design which complements the existing Winter Gardens.”

The conference centre is due to open in spring 2019, but is already being marketed to potential clients.

It is hoped the investment, part-funded through the Government’s Growth Deal, will bring back year-round conferencing and boost the town’s economy.

One of Britain’s biggest union conferences will return to Blackpool in June 2020 when the GMB general workers union stages its annual congress at the new complex.