Blackpool sets out vision for £1bn of economic growth by 2030 including new rail links

The vision sets out a strategy for further regeneration
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Blackpool has launched a £560m funding wish list to drive forward the next phase of its ambitious regeneration strategy which includes boosting rail links and transforming housing.

The bold vision is set out in the fourth edition of the Blackpool Town Prospectus which aims to grow the economy by £1bn by 2030.

Andy Charles and John Fallon (credit Claire Griffiths)Andy Charles and John Fallon (credit Claire Griffiths)
Andy Charles and John Fallon (credit Claire Griffiths)
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It is hoped the plan will persuade Government to give the town more cash towards regeneration on the back of previous successful bids - the most recent of which saw £90m awarded to invest in better housing.

Business leaders, voluntary sector representatives and council chiefs were among those invited to the launch of the prospectus by The Blackpool Pride of Place Partnership inside the Tower Ballroom.

The Prospectus,  2030 Agenda for Action, is a long-term strategic vision  which also aims to position the town as the UK’s ‘Silicon Sands’ with a thriving digital economy.

Since the launch of the first Prospectus in 2018, more than £600m has been invested in the town, including £300m of Government funding.

The latest vision includes -

  • Building on the £90m housing capital announcement and committing to future phases, comprising £400m investment for large scale intervention in the failing housing market in inner Blackpool
  • Funding £128m for the Poulton to Fleetwood Tram Train from the Restoring your Railway Fund and investing in a passing loop on the South Fylde line
  • Providing £10m to fund the Blackpool Culture Hub, creating a centre for historic and contemporary art and cultural engagement, community development activities, and displays of world-class art.
  • Allocating £20m per year of capital and revenue funding for Blackpool’s Growth and Prosperity Programme, to enable the development of inner Blackpool (including Claremont, South Shore and Revoe) to attract investment and fulfil their potential.
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Funding for the Poulton to Fleetwood rail link could come from cash saved due to the cancellation of the HS2 link to Manchester. The scheme is now expected to be a combined tram-train set-up after proposals were fleshed  out last July.

Plans to boost capacity on the South Fylde rail line would be via the creation of a passing loop which is under active consideration by the government.

Other priorities in the prospectus include tackling poor health outcomes, supporting  investment from philanthropists, working with colleges to reach more young people through education, and developing renewable heat sources.

The prospectus also outlines proposals to develop the Silicon Sands Technology Demonstrator at Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone to capture heat generated by data centre computers that can be re-used to warm buildings.

Speakers at the launch (credit Claire Griffiths)Speakers at the launch (credit Claire Griffiths)
Speakers at the launch (credit Claire Griffiths)
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John Fallon, chair of the Blackpool Pride of Place Partnership, said change in the town was being "led by many smart and committed local people" and added: "What’s being achieved here matters nationally; it brings hope of new growth and wider prosperity.”

The partnership's business director Andy Charles told the launch event national government was taking notice of the progress being made in the resort with £140m of Levelling Up funding committed to Blackpool since the third prospectus was launched in 2022.

He said Blackpool had "shown itself to be a reliable partner" with investment creating visible change seen in projects such as the £100m new civil service offices being built in King Street, and the £21m Backlot Cinema now open as part of the second phase of the Houndshill Shopping Centre.

But he warned there were still many challenges ahead including improving educational performance in secondary schools and ridding the town of slum housing.

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Council leader Coun Lynn Williams said: "It’s fantastic to see what we have achieved in Blackpool so far, working in partnership with the Pride of Place Board to deliver the shared vision for our town.

"We’re changing Blackpool, and this prospectus sets out how we plan to continue this vital work."

Kate Shane, regional director for Merlin Entertainments, said: "We are a town with a plan. Everybody in this room wants the same thing and I can't imagine there are too many places in the UK where there is such a coordinated combined pull across the business sector, private sector and the voluntary sector.

"We are all going in the same direction to fundamentally make a better future for everybody that lives, works and visits this amazing town."

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The Blackpool Pride of Place Partnership is a  collaboration between the private, public and voluntary sectors, including Blackpool Council, set up to drive change.

The latest prospectus continues the ambition set out in the 2018 prospectus, which included work to secure the £40m Town Deal. In 2022, Blackpool agreed a strategic Levelling Up Partnership with the government which has resulted in over £140m of Levelling Up Funding and a £90m commitment to help tackle housing in the town.

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