Ambitious moves to create a Fleetwood fish and food park could be just the beginning of exciting developments in the town.
Confirmation that the fish park has been granted £2.5m of Regional Growth Fund (RGF) money from the Government has led to hopes that Fleetwood’s dockland can be regenerated.
With Government money assured and the fish park plans now set to press ahead, the proposals for Fleetwood’s fish processors to re-locate to land south of the docks could spell new development on the sites these businesses will leave behind.
Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw says the fish park is just one element in the massive potential of Fleetwood’s dockland.
Mr Ollerenshaw said: “It is excellent news that the fish and food park has got this RGF money, but it means even more than a fish park alone.
“It is also about the regeneration of the whole area and the plans for the docks.
“This could spark a regeneration of the existing fish dock and Siding Road together with enabling our fish processors a chance to expand and build on their existing successful businesses.
“Clearly there is a lot more to do but now at least there is money on the table.”
The fish park plans are being developed by Reform Energy, which already has planning permission to build a £60m energy recovery plant on a site adjacent to the fish park.
There will be 40 new jobs at the energy plant, which will provide power for the fish park, and there could be up to 150 new jobs on the fish park side.
There are hopes that the Government cash - described as “seed money” because it can unlock further investment - can kickstart other things.
Associated British Ports (ABP), which owns both the site of the new fish park and the fish docks, would not be drawn this week on its long term plans for the docks.
But Coun Pete Murphy, Wyre Council’s economy portfolio holder, says the latest developments can lead to Fleetwood becoming a magnet for new businesses – and with it, new jobs.
He said: “Some 12 months ago the council was looking to see if a budget hotel group would be interested in coming to Fleetwood, but there was little response.
“Now they are approaching us. There is great potential.”
One option is that there could be a mixed-use development on land by the fish docks which would see shops, restaurants and cafes overlooking the dock, in addition to office space and further homes.
Coun Emma Anderton, a Fleetwood Labour councillor, said she would cautiously welcome any new developments on the dock, but only if it brought quality jobs with decent pay.
She said: “It would be good to see that land put to good use, but if there were to be mainly service industry jobs, they are not that well paid.
“I would still say that before Fleetwood can make the most of its potential, we need a better transport link in and out of the town. That would go a long way to attract new businesses.”