Go ahead for phase two of Blackpool's Houndshill Shopping Centre as council signs up Wilkos and cinema operator

Work will begin in March to build the £20m second phase of the Houndshill Shopping Centre after deals were signed to bring Wilko’s back to Blackpool and for an IMAX-style multi-media entertainment centre.

Monday, 1st February 2021, 7:00 am

Construction work is expected to be completed by spring 2022.

Blackpool Council announced today it had secured contracts including a 25 year lease for a nine-screen cinema complex with the largest IMAX screen in the North West.

The site on Tower Street car park will also be home to a new Wilko store, following the demolition of the previous store in Talbot Road which closed in March last year.

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CGI of the £20m development
CGI of the £20m development

Wilko will take a 15-year lease with the council on a new, purpose-built 22,500 sq ft unit.

Both deals have been in the pipeline for some time, but have been kickstarted thanks to a £5m government grant approved in October.

The council, which bought the Houndshill Centre in November 2019 for £47.6m, has also sealed the purchase of the Tower Street car park from developer Coolsilk to enable building work to start.

Council leader Coun Lynn Williams said: “We have always made it very clear that our acquisition of the Houndshill was the first step in revitalising Blackpool town centre by introducing high-quality leisure attractions to complement the existing retail offer.

Cinema space will be multi-functional

“If the town centre is to prosper, we have to provide new reasons to attract residents and visitors.

“The signing of these three contracts paves the way for us to take a major step along that road.

“We are delighted that all parties are now on board and we can move forward to an early start on site date, bringing new jobs and opportunities.”

The phase two extension will also include two restaurants totalling 3,760 sq ft, with negotiations to secure operators said to be at an “advanced” stage.

Screens will boast luxurious seating

The cinema will boast 850 seats across nine digital screens including a giant PLF (Premium Large Screen Format) IMAX-ready central screen, set to be the largest in the North West, within a 40,500 sq ft unit.

Screens will be able to double up as conference venue spaces, and there will also be an e-sports cafe.

John Sullivan, founder of operator MMC Cinemas, said: “Blackpool has an astonishing heritage as a leisure destination, and this multi-media centre is set to cement that reputation.

“Its flexible design is geared to the needs of the town and wider Lancashire needs, offering not only a destination venue to experience the latest cinema releases, but also flexible to enable conferences, space to encourage developing local business and much more.

“We are particularly excited about its ability for Blackpool to tap into the growing e-sports trend with dedicated gaming space.”

The overall scheme has been facilitated by £5m of funding from the Government’s Covid 19 Getting Building Fund, following formal approval by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in October last year.

Blackpool Council will fund the balance of the scheme through prudential borrowing.

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