The Hi-vis, Hard Hat tour: Blackpool

Where are we? on top of the tallest new commercial building in Blackpool.

What, the Tower? No, apart from the Tower, and the Big One roller coaster. It’s a new office building as part of the Talbot Gateway scheme.

What’s happening?  Through a long-standing partnership, Muse and Blackpool Council are helping to transform the town through a £350 million regeneration scheme which includes a £100 million, 215,000 sq ft highly sustainable workspace, a new hotel, improved public spaces and a Multiversity campus.

A what? A Multiversity, not quite a university, but college, training and high education provision on one site. That plan is in the pipeline and received £49m of Government funding (£40m Levelling Up Fund and £9m Town Deal) towards a £65m project.

What happened to the casino plan? We don’t talk about that.

Who are we with? Alan McBride from Muse, Anthony Hill from Blackpool Council, Jamie Jackson from constructors Vinci.

What’s Blackpool’s plan now? The major office accommodation is being designed in close collaboration with its occupiers – the civil service and Blackpool Borough Council. 

Sir Humphrey is moving from Whitehall to Blackpool?  Not exactly, but a 215,000 sq ft, seven-storey, £100 million, “highly sustainable workspace” will be home to 3,000 civil servants. It’s being designed to a very high spec with ultra-low energy and is aiming to be efficient as possible, it’s being designed by Make Architects to BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard with whole life and upfront embodied carbon assessments which were conducted to identify inefficiencies and reduce the building’s total carbon footprint, as well as ultra-high strength façade panels on the building’s exterior help reduce the structure’s embodied carbon.

How will this help the rest of Blackpool? It’s location is right across from a reshaped Blackpool North station, with a public square, a new tram stop, making it a transport interchange. The idea is that the influx of office workers will boost the local economy through the footfall it will generate, as well as creating and protecting local jobs.

What else is going on? The wider Talbot Gateway development also includes a 144 bed Holiday Inn Hotel launching later this spring with a Marco Pierre White Italian restaurant. The tram is being extended to link in with Blackpool North Station – promoting active and sustainable transport. The scheme has already seen the delivery of the 125,000 sq ft Number One Bickerstaffe Square council workspace, home to 750 desks, there’s also a huge Sainsbury’s supermarket and a refurbished 650-space multi-storey car park.

And the public realm? The scheme outside the main Blackpool North station is a positive entrance to Blackpool. A new town square is also being created with cycle and pedestrian routes, providing excellent links to the promenade and North Pier. As for the new civil service campus, Jamie Jackson from Vinci, says “we think it’s the third tallest commercial building in Blackpool behind the Tower and the Big One.”

What might this activity trigger? Blackpool Council’s Anthony Hill sees businesses moving into a rejuvenated town centre: “There are insurance firms, investment firms and legal firms that all chose to move out of town to business parks, but naturally, with this level of people in the town centre again, they might actually think that it might be better served within the town as opposed to outside the town.”

What else is going on in Blackpool? There’s Showtown, operated and managed by the Blackpool Heritage and Museum Trust, a visitor attraction celebrating Blackpool’s entertainment heritage. It’s hoping to attract 290,000 visitors each year, offering a significant boost to tourist numbers and economic growth.

Any chance of political party conferences returning to Blackpool? The Winter Gardens Blackpool Conference & Exhibition Centre reopened in 2022 and is a brand new, purpose-built events venue following an investment of £30million, split over two floors, with an exhibition space on the first floor and a conference space with a capacity of 1,500 on the second floor. The flexible event space is ideal for conferences, exhibitions, trade shows, AGMs, and any other large-scale events.

So that’s a maybe? Definitely.