Resort’s museum dream

A much-loved heritage tram on the tracks
A much-loved heritage tram on the tracks

A transport museum is among projects being considered as part of the latest vision for Blackpool revealed today.

And resort leaders have pledged to develop new ideas which will further improve the resortfor residents and visitors alike.

A double decker in 1971

A double decker in 1971

They hope a larger influx of visitors will have a ‘big impact on the town’s prosperity in the coming years’.

And Communities Minister Greg Clark said Blackpool’s work so far is “proof coastal communities are ready for economic lift off”.

The Our Blackpool Coastal Communities Team, which brings together the council, businesses and the voluntary sector to focus on investment in the town centre, is carrying out a feasability study into the possibility of a new visitor attraction based on the Fylde’s transport heritage.

Other priorities set out in a document submitted to the government, include growing Blackpool’s early evening economy and attracting more people to the resort with improvements to the resort’s cultural, leisure and retail offer.

I now want to see their hard work and enthusiasm come to fruition by helping to deliver their ideas through the coastal community teams

Initiatives to develop job and skills opportunities will also be pursued.

Blackpool was one of the first towns to set up a coastal communities team 12 months ago, but now there are more than 100, including in St Annes and Fleetwood.

The resort has received funding from the Coastal Communities Fund including £2m for the Illuminations Lightpool project.

This year it has received £50,000 from the Coastal Communities Revival Fund for repairs to the roof of the Pavilion Theatre in the Winter Gardens, and £12,500 towards a feasability study into a heritage transport visitor attraction with the Rigby Road depot the preferred site.

Rob Green, head of enterprise and investment at Blackpool Council, said: “The team is pulling together representatives from various groups – business, the public sector and the third sector to try and look at ways we can improve Blackpool.

“It is about pooling ideas and working together for economic benefit.

“Our business plan for Blackpool, setting out our priorities has gone in today, and will help us to bid for future rounds of coastal community funding. We have already received funding this year including £12,500 towards a feasability study for a heritage transport visitor attraction.

“The idea would be to pull together our tram heritage including Blackpool Transport, and private collections such as the trams at Fleetwood, as well as the area’s aviation history.

“It would link in with the Blackpool museum project.”

A positive feasability study would then open up new funding options for the resort.

Coun Mark Smith, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for business and economic development, added: “Our Coastal Communities team consists of business and tourism leaders from across the town – with representatives from the public private and community sectors.

“All of us recognise the huge impact tourism has on our local economy as tens of thousands of our local jobs rely on tourists continuing to visit the resort. The more that we can increase those visitors the better it will be for the whole town and we envisage these plans will have a big impact on the town’s prosperity in the coming years.”

Blackpool’s action plan sets out steps to encourage jobs, increase visitor numbers and improve community engagement with the resort’s heritage and entertainment complexes. Other projects include supporting WorldHost customer care training for the town’s hotel, retail and visitor attractions, and supporting the development of a specialist Artist B&B on the Promenade.

The team’s objectives are:

• To encourage and undertake activity to grow Blackpool’s early evening economy;

• To generate an increase in footfall via developing initiatives capitalising upon Blackpool’s strong cultural, leisure and retail offer;

• To devise and increase activities which will engage and involve the local community with the town, including developing employment and skills opportunities; and

• To undertake activities which will make Blackpool desirable to visit, attractive and safe.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said Blackpool’s work is “proof coastal communities are ready for economic lift off”.

He said: “Our Great British coast has enormous economic potential and we are determined to see it thrive all year round – not just in the summer months. The huge number of plans submitted, demonstrate the wave of optimism, and wealth of creative and practical ideas to boost economic lift-off.

“I now want to see their hard work and enthusiasm come to fruition by helping to deliver their ideas through the coastal community teams.”