£1.4m spent so far as council buys up properties around Cookson Street for Multiversity

Update on the £65m Multiversity which is part of Blackpool's £40m Town Deal
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The site of a sauna is among the latest acquisitions by Blackpool Council as part of the assembly of land to build a £65m new university campus in the town centre. A planning application was submitted in November for the Multiversity which will see an area between Cookson Street, Milbourne Street, George Street and Grosvenor Street cleared.

The area fronting Cookson Street which will be clearedThe area fronting Cookson Street which will be cleared
The area fronting Cookson Street which will be cleared

In recent weeks the council has bought up another three properties in Cookson Street – including number 38 which is currently listed online as being Babylon Sauna. It brings the number of properties on Cookson Street purchased by the council in 2023 to more than 10 paving the way for big changes on what is one of the town centre’s main thoroughfares.

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Clayton’s Jewellers, which has traded on Cookson Street for 60 years, sold its site to the council earlier in 2023 and is currently preparing to move to new premises on nearby Topping Street.

Financial details of individual deals are not being disclosed, but council documents reveal £1.4m had been spent on acquisitions by the end of September 2023 – with the council having £9m in total from the Town Deal to assemble the site.

A report to the December meeting of the council’s executive says acquisitions are mainly being made by negotiation although some property owners “will not engage ahead of a CPO” (compulsory purchase order). At the time of the report, 20 of the 67 properties needed had already been acquired by negotiation with negotiations set to continue throughout the formal CPO process.

Arrangements are in place to support residents with letters hand-delivered to all properties at each stage of the process to ensure people are aware of what is happening.

Artist's impression of the MultiversityArtist's impression of the Multiversity
Artist's impression of the Multiversity
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The council has also received £40m from the government’s Levelling Up fund towards construction of the Multiversity. The remaining £16m will be borrowed by the council and repaid by Blackpool and the Fylde College, which will operate the Multiversity.

The new facilities will replace the college’s existing campus on Park Road, bring 3,000 staff and students into the town centre and offer 70 courses. The report to the executive adds: “The college needs to relocate from its current campus to realise its full potential in collaboration with Lancaster University.”

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