How to stop the decline of Blackpool town centre
New ways of thinking are needed to protect town centres from the impact of the shrinking high street, Blackpool's council leader has warned.
Coun Simon Blackburn was speaking in response to concerns about the number of empty shops in the resort’s core area.
He told a full meeting of the council: “Retail is changing dramatically and quickly.
“People are buying more and more from the internet and from big out-of-town retail centres, which is one of the reasons why our planning policies have opposed development of this kind in order to focus on the town centre.
“When we bought the airport my phone didn’t stop ringing with companies wanting to build shops on the airport site.
“But we don’t do that sort of thing and we want the retail offer to be in the town centre.
“We are going to have to think about how we are going to repurpose parts of the town centre.
“That’s going to be about city centre living and more offices.”
But he added it was a national issue affecting towns and cities up and down the country.
Coun Maxine Callow said she was concerned after a report said 40 per cent of shops in Blackpool were empty.
She added: “We have not got to take our eye off the ball.
“We have to make sure people who are here trying to make a living are looked after.”
In recent times, high street names such as BHS, Poundworld and Maplin have gone to the wall.
Discount store B&M Bargains is set to move into Blackpool’s former BHS store on Church Street.
There are also plans to build an IMAX cinema next to the Houndshill Shopping Centre in order to add to the town centre offer.