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Blackpool in push for £20m conference centre

Plans for new centre, which will 'revive' visitor economy, to be discussed at next week's council meeting

Pictured: the design for Blackpool's new conference centre

Blackpool Council hopes to build a new 7,000-capacity conference centre to 'revive' the town's visitor economy.

The council will discuss plans for the new £20 million facility at its next council meeting on Monday 18 July, which includes a conference hall for 2000 delegates and a 1200sqm exhibition hall.

The conference centre will be located at the Winter Gardens entertainment complex, with links to the Empress Ballroom and Opera House to form a combined capacity of 7,000 delegates. The  Blackpool Winter Gardens was used by all major political parties for their annual conferences until 2007.

The venue's design plan has been submitted to planning and if the executive gives the plans the green light, Blackpool Council will submit bids for external funding.

Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn said: "Since Labour took control of the Council in 2011, we have been working on options to secure large-scale business tourism and conferencing facilities for the town.

"The recent demolition of the car park at the Winter Gardens has provided a rare opportunity to build on land the Council already owns and which directly connects to two of our most iconic venues.

"Much of the detail is yet to be resolved - but behind the scenes we have been talking to agencies like Historic England to make sure the development of designs protects the historic significance of the building whilst delivering the biggest economic impact possible.

"Through the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, and the Lancashire Combined Authority, I am hopeful that we can gain up to £20 million in funding towards construction costs - but these are highly competitive bidding processes, which will need support from businesses and other councils across Lancashire. Huge amounts of work are being undertaken, by me and others, to try and turn this dream into reality.  If we are successful, this will herald a dramatic new chapter on Blackpool's long and proud conference history."

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