£100m DWP Office Block - Phase 3 of Talbot Gateway. King Street Artist's Impression

£100m DWP Office Block – Talbot Gateway Phase 3

Work is underway, as of 7 February 2023, on the new government offices off East Topping Street. Blackpool Council had announced on 10 November 2021 that the Civil Service is to relocate more than 3000 staff to the town centre. It’s the £100m DWP Office Block – Phase 3 of Talbot Gateway and transformation of the Hop Inn.

Phases of Work at Talbot Gateway

The transformation of the area around Talbot Road and Cookson Street is known as Talbot Gateway – as it’s a main route into town. And it’s a large area of land which is being regenerated – so it’s being worked on in phases.

  • The first phase saw the construction of Sainsbury’s supermarket, the development of offices, car parking and Bickerstaffe Square. Completed in 2014 it now accommodates more than 1,000 public and private-sector employees including Blackpool Council. More about Phase One of Talbot Gateway and Bickerstaffe Square
  • The Holiday Inn and Tramway Terminus marks Phase Two of the Talbot Gateway project in Blackpool’s Central Business District. But this isn’t the end of the transformation around here!
  • Phase Three includes the restoration of The Hop pub and conversion into a dentists. Plus clearing land and building a new Department for Work and Pensions office block for 3000 workers. More about Phase Three DWP offices
  • In 2023 it was announced that the new Blackpool ‘Multiversity’ will be sited off Cookson Street as Phase Four. More about the Phase Four Multiversity complex
  • A Phase Five office development was revealed in June 2024 – another office block sited near Blackpool North Station, off Talbot Road.

More about Phase 3 Talbot Gateway Plans

This is a run-down, two and a half acre site between Cookson Street and East Topping Street. Its regeneration will make a huge difference to the whole town centre area. This is what it might look like seen from Church Street (Clue: the grey box above the buildings!)

The new £50m office block, seen from Church Street
The new £50m office block, seen from Church Street

Blackpool Council already owned 90% of the land to enable the development to go ahead. Compulsory Purchase Orders were used/are underway for other properties at King Street.

We took a walk around the site before anything happened, in early 2021 –

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Approving Plans for Phase 3

Blackpool Council agreed the 50 document outline planning application at their meeting on 16 March 2021. This was for demolition of buildings at the site close to Bickerstaffe House.

In May 2021 the council’s executive unanimously agreed a set of recommendations. Including funding of almost £100m for the ambitious scheme to redevelop an area of King Street. This includes £55m for the shell of the building plus the cost of fitting it out. And land acquisitions to enable development to proceed. It also includes the cost of relocating a dental surgery to the former Hop Inn. This will be remodelled while retaining its historic frontage.

Demolition includes properties at 5-31 King Street, some fronting Cookson Street, and partial demolition of the Hop Inn. The area is marked in pink on the plan below, and shown with the red dot on the Google map.

Location plan for Talbot Gateway Phase 3
Location plan for Talbot Gateway Phase 3
Location of Phase 3 plans for Talbot Gateway
Location of Phase 3 plans for Talbot Gateway

Blackpool Hub and Centre for Health and Disability Assessment (CHDA)

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has come to an agreement with Blackpool Council and partner Muse Developments to develop the new seven-storey regional hub in Talbot Gateway. DWP has signed a 25-year lease to occupy the highly-sustainable, purpose-built offices. It’s part of a strategic plan to centralise civil service jobs in the heart of Blackpool.

More than 3000 staff will be relocated to the new £100m office development in Blackpool town centre. They’ll move from existing sites at Warbreck House and Ryscar House. Both are under-utilised and in need of significant investment.

The seven story office block -Blackpool Hub and Centre for Health and Disability Assessment (CHDA) – provides 24,500 sqm of office space on a 2.4 acre site at King Street. Its main entrance will be on the corner of Cookson Street and Deansgate. An additional 500 sqm will be occupied by the Dental Health Centre. Work includes a surface car park and new public realm works.

This deal was negotiated over several years. Outline approval for the scheme was granted by Blackpool Council back in March 2021. It’s part of its stated ambition to rejuvenate the town centre by the introduction of high-quality office developments. This will create and protect local jobs, drive footfall and breathe new life into the retail economy.

We went to take a look around, in November 21 when approval was granted –

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An Environmentally Friendly Building

Low energy and low carbon design and material choice has been at the heart of decision making. This will result in a truly energy efficient, low carbon building, located in a new, leafy town centre square

The new building has been designed by renowned architects, Make, to BREEAM “Excellent” standard, which means it will operate on low energy and promote both sustainable development and wellbeing. The design of it draws on Blackpool’s rich Art Deco architectural heritage. 

An inclusive approach to sustainability was taken from the outset to make sure the building will be as energy-efficient as possible, with high levels of insulation and air source heat pumps to provide low-carbon heating and cooling. Demand-driven ventilation will improve indoor air quality, while at the same time allowing energy savings during times when the building is not occupied.

Before Redevelopment…

These photos of East Topping Street car park and the site where the new office block is being built were all taken in 2021.

…the science bit

During the building’s inception, partners completed early-stage whole life and upfront embodied carbon assessments, to eliminate inefficiencies where possible and reduce the building’s whole carbon footprint.

This results in the new offices aiming to reduce its upfront embodied carbon intensity to 800 kgCO2e/m2. compared with 1100kgCO2e/m2 for a typical office development.

Well Connected for Public Transport

The site includes a new town centre square with new cycle and pedestrian routes. Storage for over 100 bicycles is included, to encourage cycling to work. It’s within easy walking distance of the new tram interchange at Blackpool North Station which is nearing completion.

The inclusive design benefits from ground floor showers and changing facilities for commuters to use before reaching the upstairs offices. There are automatic doors, a large reception lobby, accessible tea points, meeting rooms and quiet zones. Plus flexible activity spaces, and high, airy ceiling heights throughout.

While some of the parking has been taken away due to the construction of the new building, there will still be a limited number of spaces on East Topping Street car park.

Progress Photos

Work at the transformational Civil Service office site in Blackpool town centre

Partners gather at Blackpool Civil Service offices to celebrate progress

Partners, nationwide placemaker, Muse, Blackpool Council and contractor Vinci Building, gathered together on site, to celebrate progress on the latest phase of the £350m Talbot Gateway transformation.

Partners from Blackpool Council Muse Vinci Construction and Mayo Civils at the new regional home for the civil service being constructed in Blackpool town centre
Partners from Blackpool Council Muse Vinci Construction and Mayo Civils at the new regional home for the civil service being constructed in Blackpool town centre June 2023

Alan McBride is projects director at Muse. He said: “We’re delighted to see the core of the building coming out of the ground. It’s an important milestone in the creation of this fantastic facility for the Civil Service and one that we should celebrate.

“As a business, we’re committed to creating places with purpose that create opportunities for communities to thrive and prosper. We’re looking forward to seeing this striking building progress over the coming months.”

Cllr Lynn Williams is Leader of Blackpool Council. She said: “The new Civil Service hub is a major piece in our plan to develop the area around Blackpool North train station, bringing thousands of professional workers into the town centre who will spend money in local businesses, in turn creating new jobs and economic growth which makes Blackpool better for us all.

Progressing daily

“It’s great to see the speed of this development and the build is progressing every single day with dozens of workers on site. We will now start to see the building really rise from the ground over the next few months, which will show real progress.”

Tony Grindrod is contracts manager at VINCI Building. He said: “VINCI Building are delighted to see the superstructure starting to rise out of the ground on the Blackpool King Street project. The project has been on site for around four months now and soon the main steel frame will commence followed by the building façade later this year.

“VINCI Building have worked very hard with the client team to enhance the sustainability credentials of the project by utilising ultra-high strength concrete on the façade panels to minimise material use plus the utilisation of numerous other sustainable techniques and innovations. With our supply chain partners we’ve also set up a Community Skills Centre. It will be used to train a number of young people from the local area and we are all very excited about this initiative taking shape over coming months.”

The long-standing partnership between Muse and Blackpool Council, has already delivered the 125,000 sq ft Number One Bickerstaffe Square council office. A Sainsbury’s supermarket and a refurbished 650-space multi-storey car park. Plus extensive public spaces for the community to enjoy.

Work Begins – February 2023

Work began on the new £100m office building in February 2023, which forms part of the place-changing £350m Talbot Gateway regeneration that is transforming the heart of Blackpool town centre.

Work begins at the new DWP offices site in Blackpool
Marking the start of construction at East Topping St, Blackpool.

Pictured above L-R: Alan McBride, Projects Director at Muse, Mike Horner, Development Director at Muse, Cllr Mark Smith, Cabinet Member for Business, Enterprise and Job Creation, Cllr Lynn Williams Leader of Blackpool Council and Cabinet Member for Tourism, Arts and Culture and Gary Bowker, Regional Managing Director at VINCI Building

Nationwide placemaker, Muse, and its partner, Blackpool Council, have started work bringing forward the 215,000sq ft highly-sustainable office building for the Civil Service after naming VINCI Building as the contractor.

When it completes in March 2025, the new office will generate significant new footfall to the area, boosting trade to local businesses, retailers, restaurants, cafes and leisure facilities, alongside a wealth of new job opportunities for local people.

Transforming the Hop Pub into a Dental Centre

Along with the £100m Office Block at Phase 3 of Talbot Gateway, there’s also new life for the Hop Inn. It’s one of Blackpool’s oldest pubs. The new-build dental surgery includes the original facade of the Hop Inn – here’s the original artists impression.

Artists impression of the Dental Surgery which replaces The Hop Inn
Artists impression of the Dental Surgery which replaces The Hop Inn

The former dental surgery at King Street has moved to the newly converted premises in what used to be the pub. It’s more or less a new build behind the original frontage of the attractive building.

The dentists had to vacate the building so that their original place at King Street could be demolished. With work at the Hop still well underway, a temporary dentists was built with portacabins on the corner of King Street car park.

History of The Hop Inn

It’s known today as The Hop Inn. But this drinking establishment was first called the Veevers Hotel, dating back to 1872!

The Hop Inn Blackpool before it closed
The Hop Inn Blackpool before it closed in 2019

It was built as part of the rapid 1860’s expansion of the town. The pub secured its first spirit license on 5 September 1872. And the name? It was after a Richard Veevers of Fulwood, Clerk of the Gorton Estate.

Like many public houses, over the years there have been different owners in charge. On 9 January 1900 it was sold to Threlfall Brewery. Much later, in the 1990’s, it was renamed The Hop Inn by then owners Whitbread.

Closure finally came under another brand when Greene King shut the doors for the last time on 25 November 2017. But it was quickly snapped up by Blackpool Council. They bought it soon after closure, in December 2017, for expansion of the Talbot Gateway development.

Blackpool Council briefly made use of their asset while Talbot Gateway plans were being refined. It opened it as a trading pub, operated by Blackpool Entertainment Company. Then the Covid-19 pandemic happened and marked last orders at The Hop.

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