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."
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