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Agenda item


To consider an update on the progress of Town Centre Regeneration projects.


Mr Alan Cavill, Director of Regeneration and Communication, and Councillor Mark Smith, Cabinet Member for Business, Enterprise and Job Creation, presented an overview of progress on the town centre regeneration projects being undertaken in Blackpool Town Centre and updated the Committee on planned future work.


The Committee discussed the progress of the Talbot Gateway project and queried why there had been two vacant retail units at Bickerstaffe House since 2015 and asked what had been undertaken to fill these units. Mr Cavill responded that there had been high interest in the vacant units but that the Council had sought a tenant that fitted with its vision for the wider project.


The proposed underpass connecting the new Tram Terminus and Blackpool North Train Station was raised as an issue of concern by the Committee. It was noted that underpasses in other towns had become unsafe areas after dark and encouraged homelessness and begging. Members asked if any consideration had been given to these issues in the design of the underpass. Mr Cavill responded that the underpass had been designed to ensure that it was wide, would include shop fronts in its walls and would be lit for 24-hours a day which would help discourage rough sleeping and help ensure public safety.


The Committee also welcomed the news that improvements would be made to the Clifton Hotel. Mr Cavill reported that the Council was close to an agreement on the works to be undertaken and it was anticipated that they would begin in November 2019.


Mr Cavill also informed the Committee that the office space at Bickerstaffe House had now been fully let.


Members of the Committee questioned if the delay to the delivery of the new Conference Centre at the Winter Gardens had caused any bookings that had been taken to be lost. Mr Cavill responded that no bookings had been lost as a result of the delay but that two events had been relocated to elsewhere in the Winter Gardens. The organisations affected had been supported in this to ensure minimal disruption to their events. The Committee further asked if the Council was confident that the centre would be delivered by Summer 2020 as outlined in the report. Mr Cavill responded that the building contractor had provided a date of July 2020 for completion of the Conference Centre and that remained the expected date for it being finished.


The figure provided for the expected annual spend created by the development central leisure quarter of £75 million was questioned. Mr Cavill responded that the figure had been based on a conservative modelling of the capacity of the attractions being developed and their expected occupancy.


The Committee also discussed the work being undertaken to relocate the Courts buildings that currently occupied part of the area to be developed as part of the central leisure quarter. Mr Cavill reported that a location for the Courts to move to had been identified but discussions regarding the costs were ongoing. It was also reported that the Council foresaw that the current buildings would be demolished by 2025 so that work could begin on phase three of the leisure quarter.


Members queried if anything of value had been stored in the Council storage facilities. Mr Cavill responded that all important documents were held in the Council’s archive but that he would look to determine what was held in other storage areas.


The Committee noted that two long-standing businesses in the town centre had closed recently and asked if the traffic work that had been undertaken during the summer was the primary cause. Mr Cavill responded that although traffic works could have been a factor he did not believe that it was the primary cause for their closure. Members also reported that an issue with new overhead wiring for the tramway extension had prevented business owners cleaning their windows, Mr Cavill replied that he was unaware of any such issue but would check to determine if this was the case.


Work being undertaken outside of the town centre was also raised as an issue. The Committee agreed that a future report be provided outlining any regeneration work being undertaken in the outer areas of Blackpool.

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