VIPs and members of the Houndshill development team met [today] to break ground at Tower Street Car Park at Houndshill Shopping Centre to mark the start of the main contract for Phase Two works on site.
Three key deals were signed in February that have enabled the scheme to commence, the Council’s acquisition of Tower Street Car Park, a lease agreement for a new 22,500 sq ft wilko store and a deal with MMC Cinemas for a nine screen, 850 seat, 40,500 sq ft multi-media cinema complex, including the biggest immersive screen in Lancashire.
Graham has been appointed as the lead contractor and CBRE the project manager and cost consultant for the scheme. The first phase enabling works will involve initial utilities diversion works and the preparation of site for the main building works to follow. This first phase of the project will be complete by Winter 2022.
The completed scheme will deliver:
Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council said, “We are committed to diversifying and modernising the town centre to encourage residents and visitors to choose Blackpool as their main shopping centre of choice. This means celebrating our well known heritage buildings, driving footfall to new areas of the town and encouraging people to stay for longer. The Houndshill Phase 2 extension will deliver a new range of high-quality entertainment, retail and leisure choices that meet the needs of the modern family, which will complement the existing shops at the Houndshill, boost both day and night time business, and increase the amount of time and money spent in the town centre.
“For the town centre to prosper we must continue to provide new reasons to attract resident and visitors and to extend the time of visits into the evening with more entertainment and leisure choices that the whole family can enjoy. New purpose-built, ultra-modern buildings that can adapt to ever-evolving consumer aspirations are important and will shape how we use our town centre in the future.”
The overall scheme has been facilitated by £5m of funding from the Government’s COVID-19 Getting Building Fund, following formal approval by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in October last year. Blackpool Council will fund the balance of the scheme through prudential borrowing.
Debbie Francis OBE, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership said, “It is great that the Houndshill scheme was able to secure £5m from the Getting Building Fund. This will undoubtedly enhance Blackpool’s leisure and retail offer and complement existing investment into the town to achieve transformational change. The leisure and tourism sectors have been significantly affected by the pandemic and so it is wonderful news to see work starting on site and the scheme coming one step closer to fruition and attracting visitors to the area.”
Stephen Van den Hoek, Regional Operations Director for GRAHAM said, “This next phase of works will deliver much-needed commercial space to Blackpool, driving footfall through the creation of new retail and leisure opportunities for visitors and the local community. Our team is excited to bring the vision to life over the course of the construction programme, which on completion will create a high quality destination for the town centre to flourish and prosper.”
Gareth Robertson, Director at CBRE said, “CBRE’s Project and Cost Management team have worked closely with Blackpool Council, deploying our broad range of capabilities in support of the acquisition, funding and procurement phases of this fantastic scheme and valuable addition to the Town’s amenities. We look forward to the construction phase of the project and continuing to work collaboratively with Blackpool Council, their project stakeholders, new and existing tenants and their construction partner John Graham Construction.”
John Sullivan, founder, MMC Cinemas, adds, “Finally seeing the ground-breaking on this project is the result of a lot of hard work already done, but marks the official start of a new cinematic journey for Blackpool. We’re committed to making sure this new complex pays homage to the heritage of this exceptional town. In the independent MMC location, we’re not bringing a ready-made cinema brand to Blackpool; Blackpool will help to shape this flexible arts and community space.
“We’re already in discussions with local interest groups and we want to hear from more. This will be a place where people can come together and make use of this flexible space for education, leisure, shopping, entertainment, workspaces and so much more.”
The Council acquired the Houndshill Shopping Centre in for £47.6m in November 2019 as part of its long-term strategy to revitalise the town centre. The phase two extension will also include two restaurants totalling 3,760 sq ft that will be delivered to shell specification. The Council is in talks with potential leisure operators for these units and remains open to all enquiries.
About MMC Cinemas
The MMC Cinema complex will be an independent entertainment destination serving Blackpool and the North West, one of the first such developments in the UK to boast flexible multimedia offerings alongside traditional cinema screenings, an incubator workspace, the North West’s largest format screen, and conference facilities.
It has been founded by John Sullivan, who has been developing cinemas in all corners of the globe for 30 years including Australia, CGV in South Korea, Warner Village (now VUE) in the United Kingdom, Europe and the Gulf Region, founding The Light Cinemas in the UK, establishing muvi Cinemas in Saudi Arabia and pioneering the chain of Nightflix DriveIn cinemas across the United Kingdom. John also advises property developers and local government across Europe on cinema development projects.