Plans submitted for Blackpool’s £65m Multiversity campus

Artist's impression of how Multiversity campus could look

Plans for a £65m art education campus in Blackpool, that would house up to 3,000 new staff and students in the town centre, have been submitted.

An outline planning application for the new Multiversity campus for Blackpool and the Fylde College show a five-storey campus on Cookson Street.

The development would allow Blackpool and the Fylde College to relocate from out of town facilities into a state-of-the-art campus as part of the £350m Talbot Gateway regeneration of the area around Blackpool North train station.

The Multiversity would be built by Blackpool Council, then leased to the college, offering more than 70 individual courses and enhancing its existing higher education provision which is directly linked to local employment needs.

The proposed development would include two phases, starting with an education campus on the corner of Cookson Street and George Street, followed by future development across the southern end of the site by Milbourne Street and Grosvenor Street.

The plans would deliver up to 32,600 sq m of education and commercial space across several phases, starting with the new Multiversity building.

The main campus building would be designed to be carbon-neutral in operation, with the surrounding area on George Street landscaped and pedestrianised to make it a safer environment for students. The Multiversity has been designed by established architects Hawkins\Brown and aims to complement the rest of the Talbot Gateway regeneration.

Talbot Gateway is sited next to Blackpool North train station, with the Multiversity adding to other developments under construction nearby, including the 144-bedroom Holiday Inn and transport interchange, and the Civil Service Hub, which will bring an additional 3,000 professional workers to the area when it opens in 2025.

The site will offer plenty of sustainable transport options, including buses, train and tram, making the campus accessible to students across the Fylde Coast and beyond.

Cllr Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “The Multiversity will be a game changing addition to Blackpool town centre and this is another exciting step forward.

“The Talbot Gateway is designed to support our plans to make Blackpool better, by bringing thousands of workers and students into the town centre, and creating an environment for local businesses to benefit from that huge increase in footfall, creating more jobs and opportunities for local people.”

She added: “The Multiversity will also help improve the town’s skills base so that our local people can learn work-ready skills and gain university-level qualifications without leaving the town, while also offering a world class education campus that will help attract people to study, live and work in Blackpool.”

Alun Francis, principal and chief executive, Blackpool and The Fylde College, said: “Multiversity will genuinely transform the opportunities for people in Blackpool and on the Fylde coast, helping to deliver a highly skilled workforce.

“It will combine the very best of higher and technical and professional education in one campus, with curriculum completely aligned with the growing opportunities across Lancashire and the North West.”

He added: “Multiversity aims to be the country’s first carbon-neutral Higher Education campus and we fully intend it to be a landmark building as part of the redevelopment of Blackpool town centre. This is one of the best things to happen to Blackpool for a generation.”

The land for the new Multiversity is currently being acquired by Blackpool Council, with the support of a £9m government grant as part of the Blackpool Town Deal, which was awarded in March 2022.

The project was also awarded £40m as part of the Government’s Levelling Up funding in January 2023 as part of the total project cost.