Blackpool was today handed a huge slice of a £230m jackpot to kickstart an economic recovery.
The Government windfall will see dreams of new homes, key link roads, tram links and new attractions become a reality in the resort.
It will result in an £84m spend in Lancashire in 2015/16 with a further £150m funds from 2016/17.
The first phase of the Growth Fund in Blackpool will see:-
n A new link road between M55 and St Annes
n Heritage Visitor Attraction in the Winter Gardens
n A new traffic system including one on the Promenade
n 11 bridges repaired
n Energy centre for Blackpool and The Fylde College
n A £26m loan to improve housing standards in private rented properties
Cash has also been put forward for a host of projects from 2016/17.
n Blackpool to Fleetwood tram extension
n A road linking the M55 to the Warton Enterprise Zone via a new junction between Broughton and Kirkham.
n ‘Green corridors’ in Blackpool town centre
Whitehall claims the historic package, confirmed today, will create 5,000 jobs in Lancashire.
No dates have been set for work to commence on any of the projects with some several years from getting off the ground.
It is now up to the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership to decide when it will happen. Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, said the funding package will provide a “huge boost” in the region.
He added: “Today’s Growth Deal announcement signals the Government’s commitment to work with Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and Blackpool Council to develop a long-term renewal strategy for Blackpool.
“We have worked enormously hard in recent years to improve the prospects of residents and businesses in Blackpool.
“The new housing, skills, investment and energy sector initiatives announced today will provide a huge boost to our ability to deliver radical change. I am very grateful to ministers and civil servants for the faith they have demonstrated in Blackpool.”
In April, The Renewal of Blackpool was included as a Growth Deal Priority in a 100-page economic strategy document for Lancashire which was submitted to government ministers to bid for the cash.
The Strategic Economic Plan was compiled by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to set out the county’s growth ambitions for the next 10 years.
Regeneration chiefs hope to harness the Government’s new Growth Deal to try to tackle issues the resort faces.
Blackpool’s economy has grown at under half the average rate for the rest of England since 1995 – despite the resort still attracting millions of visitors a year.
The tourism sector is being undermined by too many other factors such as poor housing, which draws in a transient population and puts pressure on local services, high rates of unemployment and low skills levels.
Ministers have set up the fund in order to give regions more say over how Government cash is channelled down to the projects which they believe will bring the most economic benefit.
The resort’s requirement to rebuild based around tourism had been put at the centre of its strategy for renewal.
The report said: “The LEP recognises the importance of Blackpool and the role it can again play as a quality visitor destination of choice.
“Therefore Blackpool’s renewal is dependent upon successfully growing a year round visitor economy place and produce that can compete in an increasingly sophisticated market place.”
Coun Tony Williams, Conservative leader at Blackpool Council, said: “I am delighted this Government is recognising some of the shortfalls in Blackpool.
“Where the tram track is concerned, we have wanted that in place as part of our overall transport manifesto, but what we want at the end of the day is to have a transport hub.
“Not just for trams but buses as well. Blackpool needs a transport hub - the whole point of public transport is to provide a smoother journey - I hope this is looked at.
“All in all it is good news and I am glad our Government has put its hands in its pockets.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Growth Deals are a crucial part of our long-term plan to secure Britain’s future.
“For too long our economy has been too London-focused and too centralised. Growth Deals will help change all that. “This historic deal means real change with exciting plans for Lancashire including improvements to road and rail to help people get to work and businesses to grow, supporting new housing and backing tourism.”
Edwin Booth, Chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is a significant announcement for Lancashire and builds on the LEP’s work creating the right environment for businesses to thrive. The Growth Deal will establish a new six-year investment package worth over £360m with the potential to create more than 4,000 new jobs in Lancashire over the coming years.
“This is great news for residents and businesses in Lancashire.
“As the Chair of the LEP, I look forward to working with local partners and Government to deliver our ambitious plans to grow Lancashire’s economy”.
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