Go ahead for £50m Blackpool office plan to boost town centre jobs

Planners have approved a £50m new office development which will bring 2,500 jobs to Blackpool town centre and has been branded a “milestone” in the resort’s regeneration.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 4:49 pm

Outline permission was granted unanimously by the council’s planning committee for the seven storey scheme on land between East Topping Street, Cookson Street, King Street and Deansgate.

Civil service workers are expected to occupy the building which will be developed by the council’s investment partner Muse as part of the third phase of the Talbot Gateway.

Planning committee chairman Coun David Owen said: “This is a major milestone in the council’s aim to try to improve the employment prospects of our citizens.”

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An artist's impression of the office scheme
An artist's impression of the office scheme

He added the scheme was part of a wider strategy which had already seen council offices built at Bickerstaffe House, construction of a Sainsbury’s supermarket and refurbishment of the Talbot Road multi storey car park.

Coun Owen said: “It is all part of a piece of strategic thinking for the future of the borough and hopefully this is the start of something big.”

Councillors were shown an artist’s impression of how the new offices might look, although developers will have to submit a further full application setting out the final design.

Coun Andrew Stansfield questioned whether such a big office space would be needed in the future as more people opted to work from home even after the Covid pandemic.

The King Street redevelopment area

But Nick Gerrard, growth and prosperity programme director at the council, told the meeting the capacity had been designed to meet the needs of the client.

He said a non-disclosure agreement had been signed meaning he could not disclose details of the client, but added “one of the first things we did was to establish this was the size of building they wanted.”

Mr Gerrard said: “They have undertaken a thorough review of their post-Covid requirements. That has been fully taken into account so this won’t be an under-used building.”

He said there would be around 1,700 desk spaces within the building, but it would attract 2,500 jobs to the town centre. This reflected the fact some home working would continue.

Concerns were also raised about the loss of 128 car parking spaces and added congestion on nearby roads.

But Mr Gerrard said plans were being drawn up for a new multi storey car park in the area which the council had set aside £16m of expenditure for, while the site was close to existing train, tram and bus routes.

Ed Harvey, agent for Muse Developments, told the meeting: “The new office building is required to meet an option by demand and will give rise to significant economic benefits, not least bringing in a few thousand workers to the town centre who would also support local shops and services.”

The scheme will see widescale demolition in the area with the council securing a compulsory purchase order in order to complete the required property acquisitions.

Some demolition has already begun in Milbourne Street towards development of the Talbot Gateway.

As part of the same application, planners also approved the conversion of the Hop Inn to a dental surgery to enable the relocation of the existing King Street dental practice.

Part of the locally listed building will be retained with a two to three storey extension built on the back, with other parts of the back of the former pub demolished to make way for a surface-level car park.

Phase two of the Talbot Gateway is currently underway with work to build a new Holiday Inn hotel and tram terminal on Talbot Road now beginning following the demolition of Wilko’s.

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