Direct Access, commissioned by Blackpool Council will be working alongside the appointed Architects Bisset Adams to deliver and design a 21st century conference centre for Blackpool based at the Winter Gardens. The new conference centre is scheduled to be completed towards the end of 2019.
Events at Blackpool Winter Gardens already generate millions of pounds of secondary spend revenue which supports a wide range of local businesses, many of them independent. This project is aimed at growing the economic impact to transform Blackpool town centre physically but more importantly it will act as a trigger for wider investment that will create jobs and futures for local.
Blackpool was the first mass seaside resort created for the working class in the world. It has an internationally important history. Indeed Blackpool remains the byword for the seaside holiday worldwide. But it also has a unique place in the development of conferencing in Britain. From the end of the Second World War, Blackpool Winter Gardens developed as the home of the Party Political Conferences and other organisations followed, until a large proportion of the annual revenue for the Winter Gardens came from political, commercial and association conferences
This all changed eight years ago as newer conference facilities in places like Manchester began to attract business away from Blackpool. This led to a decline in the use of the Winter Gardens for major political and business cnferences, which contributed to a wider decline in investment and public access.
To address this and in recognition of the Winter Gardens historic and commercial significance to Blackpool’s town centre, Blackpool Council bought the Winter Gardens along with other properties from the previous owners in
March 2010. Since then, over £5m has been invested in restoration, repair and new leisure and convention offers which have turned the fortunes of the complex around.
The location of the new facility will be on a flat site on the eastern side of the complex. This site was previously occupied by a two level car park built in the 1930’s which was demolished last year. The car park was built over a former Italian garden (some small remains of which have been uncovered) which once formed part of an elaborate entrance to the Empress Ballroom which sits on the southern side of this site. On the opposite side of the road (Leopold Grove) is another large flat site which currently has consent for a 195 room hotel, which might potentially link directly with the conference centre.
Steven Mifsud (NRAC Consultant) and Director of Direct Access stated -
‘We are so proud to have been appointed the Access Consultants for this project. This builds directly on Direct Access’s growing reputation for large scale projects after earlier this year when we were involved in the redevelopment of Woking Town Centre. We are delighted to be appointed by Blackpool Council and to be working alongside the Architects Bisset Adams to deliver a new world class conference centre which will take Blackpool into the 21st Century’
Direct Access’s role will be to undertake all aspect of Access Consultancy services and to aid Bisset Adams with taking the design from RIBA Stage 2 to RIBA stage 3 Developed Design and RIBA Stage 4 Technical Design. The project has already started and our team of NRAC Access Consultants are currently in the process of providing a full accessibility audit of the existing Wintergardens complex.