£100m new Blackpool civil service offices decision is among 'most significant' in town's history
New civil service offices in Blackpool town centre have secured final planning approval in what has been hailed as “one of the most significant employment initiatives” in the town’s history.
Outline permission was already in place for the £100m seven-storey office building in the King Street area which will become home to 3,000 civil servants in 2024.But the council’s planning committee approved full details of the development, with enabling work now set to begin and full construction due to start next spring.
Planning committee chairman Coun David Owen said: “It is one of the most important and significant employment initiatives of all our time in local government.
“It has been obtained after a tremendous amount of work with our MPs, with representatives in Whitehall and a feeling by the civil service that their own estate was fragmented and needed an awful lot of money spending on it.
“It was an idea opportunity to help themselves and to help us.
“The retail value of having 3,000 souls spending in the town centre is going to be enormous, and those people will also spend on entertainment as well.”
Ed Harvey, agent for the applicant Muse Developments, said the project would “generate significant economic benefits, not least by bringing large numbers of new workers into the town centre.”
He added: “The design of the scheme has been carefully considered. The formal appearance of the building draws on the town’s rich architectural heritage including the choice and colour of materials, which have also been chosen for robustness and longevity.”
Planning documents say the building has been “designed in a brutalist architectural style” around a strong grid pattern of elongated windows.
It will be constructed in a wedge shape between Deansgate and Charles Street with a new public square on the north eastern corner and a pedestrianised, tree-lined avenue connecting this space into King Street.
At ground floor level there will be a reception area, cycle store, small gym room and staff changing facilities. The six upper floors will provide open-plan office space around a central staircase.
The scheme also includes the conversion of the former Hop Inn pub into a new dental surgery.
Workers from the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) will transfer from existing sites at Warbreck House and Ryscar House in a move estimated to boost the town centre economy by up to £8m a year.
The £100m cost of the offices includes £82m from council borrowing which will be recouped in rent throughout the 25-year lease, with the DWP putting the remainder of the money in.
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