Operator eyeing up Central Station site as council chiefs sell resort to world

Central Car Park in Blackpool
Central Car Park in Blackpool
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An international operator is said to be showing a ‘serious’ interest in developing Blackpool’s Central Station site.

Council chiefs are currently in the USA for talks about the proposal – but at the moment are keeping tight-lipped about what it could be.

However it is believed the interested party has already spent a substantial sum of money looking at the 20 acre parcel of land.

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn and Alan Cavill, director of place, have been meeting with the potential operator in Orlando, Florida.

They have also been promoting Blackpool at the IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) conference being held in the American resort at the moment.

Coun Blackburn said: “I am currently in Orlando with Alan Cavill, Blackpool Council’s director of place, to attend meetings with a major international operator in the attractions industry who is interested in developing the Central Station site.

“Obviously we wouldn’t travel this far unless we thought that they were serious about their proposals.

“We’ve already been impressed by the time and money that they have put into their plans. As soon we can share more information about this we will do but at the moment it is commercially sensitive.

“Our visit was planned to coincide with the IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) conference which is the world’s largest event for the attractions industry with 30,000 delegates and exhibitors attending.

“Every major player is here and people want to talk to us about Blackpool and the opportunities we have for investment.”

The £2,500 cost of the trip has been met by the council including Coun Blackburn’s personal costs of an economy return flight at £521, one bedroom self-catering unit at £545 and admission to IAPPA trade show and conference which is £145.

In the past the Central Station site has been earmarked for developments including a super-casino and an indoor snow-based attraction, but so far nothing has come to fruition.

However the council now owns a bigger chunk of potential development land after a deal saw it purchase the site of Blackpool’s Bonny Street police station, which is relocating to the former council-owned land at Clifton Road, Marton.

A feasability study is currently underway to consider moving the law courts to a new site as well.

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, welcomed potential investment but urged the council to be more open about the plans.

He said: “I welcome any investment into Blackpool especially if it is high profile international funds, but I am tired of this council continually ignoring the wishes and views of the people of the town by once again hiding their actions behind the excuse of ‘commercially sensitive’

“Even the trip and the funding was secretly approved behind closed doors.

“We will only get one shot at getting the right product for this high profile site.

“Maybe for once we could we be more creative and find something that will have an all year round appeal instead of just another amusement park.

“Either way the people of this town should be fully consulted and involved in the final decision.”