Blackpool’s landmark attractions set to benefit from £38.9 million investment
Two of Blackpool’s most iconic visitor attractions, Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens complex, are to get a major facelift and redevelopment as part of a groundbreaking £38.9 million project, joint Communities and Business Minister Rosie Winterton announced today.
The multi-million deal will secure the long term future of the area by rejuvenating tourism and ensuring that Blackpool maintains its status as the UK’s leading resort.
The funding will enable Blackpool council to purchase the Tower and the Winter Gardens from the current operator Leisure Parcs. It will put the attractions in public ownership for the very first time and pave the way for a major regeneration programme that will:
- bring the expertise of the world class leisure operator Merlin Entertainments Group to the area. Merlin already successfully operates internationally branded attractions including the London Eye, London Dungeon and Legoland;
- fund a £10 million programme of repairs for the Tower. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in time for the beginning of the 2011 tourism season;
- attract an estimated 800,000 more visitors a year to the Tower, almost doubling the current visitor numbers (458,000 visits in 2008/09), bringing an additional visitor spend of £36 million per year;
- create an estimated 1,000 jobs;
- deliver wide ranging economic impact, contributing up to £223 million to the region’s gross value added as well as providing a return of £7 for every £1 of public sector investment.
The Winter Gardens will undergo a first phase refurbishment and upgrading programme to create a new mid-size, multi purpose conferencing venue suitable for a wide range of events and functions. The first phase will focus on upgrading he Pavilion, Arena and circulation areas as well as the redevelopment of 77-81 Church Street to create a new creative industries workspace unit.
The £38.9 million investment – a mixture of European, national, regional and local funding – comes from the Northwest European Regional Development Fund (£14 million), Northwest Regional Development Agency (£7.9 million), Blackpool Council (£10 million) and the Homes and Communities Agency (£7 million).
Ms Winterton said:
“Blackpool is one of our most iconic seaside towns. This investment will revamp these historic buildings and secure their world class status well into the future alongside jobs and regeneration now.
“Today’s announcement is part and parcel of concerted action on the part of the government to help seaside towns thrive.
This includes our seaside town strategy announced last week – which also benefits Blackpool. Our investment is helping to transform our coastal areas by improving housing, creating jobs and opportunities and attracting new investment and business.”
Regional Minister Phil Woolas, who visited Blackpool Tower today, said:
“This is fantastic news for Blackpool and the North West. Blackpool Tower and Winter Gardens are favourite tourist venue attractions in the country and this investment will ensure their future as part of the transformation of Blackpool into a world class destination.”
Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive of the NWDA, said:
“Both Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens are internationally recognised landmarks and are therefore key assets for both the resort and the Northwest. Through bringing these two prime attractions into public ownership, this investment will drive a major redevelopment and restoration programme on a scale that would otherwise not have been possible, generating significant economic benefits.”
Sir Howard Bernstein, Chair of ReBlackpool, said:
“This is a bold but necessary initiative which provides the best possible platform for strengthening the destination role of the town. I am confident that this will result in a significant increase in jobs and visitor numbers and will weld together all the other valuable projects and programmes which are designed to make Blackpool an attractive place to live, visit and invest.”
Deborah McLaughlin, regional director NW for the Homes and Communities Agency, said:
“This is a great example of partnership working to support the regeneration of Blackpool. Our investment will act as a catalyst for future inward investment to the town by creating a more sustainable economy. This will provide a robust platform to drive up the quality of the local housing market.”