Blackpool Central site aerial view 2021

Work begins on first Phase of Blackpool Central Car Park

Blackpool Central is the big site in the town centre which was once the Central Railway Station. Today, it’s temporary use is as a big surface car park. It’s going to see a major £300m redevelopment as Blackpool Central Indoor Entertainment Park.

Aerial shot of where the Blackpool Central development sits
Aerial shot of where the Blackpool Central development sits

It will include a new major public square for live events, such as music concerts, light shows, sporting events and markets. Along with that an innovative flying theatre, new hotels, restaurants, a food market and multi-storey car park.

The £300m leisure development is expected to create over 1,000 jobs for local people. It will attract 600,000 additional visitors each year and bring millions of pounds of additional spend into the town.

Take a look around in November 2022. The multi-storey car park is well under way but all the other work is yet to begin. This video explains the development and what’s going where –

Progress Photos at Blackpool Central

Have a look through this gallery of photos taken during the construction phase with newest ones at the beginning. Fascinating to see how these projects develop.

After the gallery, there’s a playlist of videos we’ve made, charting the progress on site.

Blackpool Central Video Playlist

We’ve picked this one out to feature here, filmed back in July 2020 before any work started. It’s good to capture these sites before any change begins!

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Road Closures for Multi-Storey Car Park Construction

On 2 March 2022, Blackpool Council announced that work was about to get underway on Blackpool’s biggest single investment for more than a century.

The first phase of development is the creation of a new multi-storey car park to ensure there is sufficient parking for residents and visitors. It will also free up the existing Central Car Park to enable the leisure phase of the development.

In order to progress development there will be some road closures. From Monday 16 May 2022 the main access route to Central Car Park via Seasiders Way has been closed to traffic. This is to allow construction of the new multi-storey car park.

Where: Entrance to Central Car Park at Seasiders Way where it crosses Chapel Street via the bridge
When: Closed for 12 months from Monday 16 May 2022 until spring 2023
Diversions: are signposted to show motorists where to go instead

Jan ’22: Green Light and Funding for Blackpool Central

Proposals to create the new, year round, world class Blackpool Central leisure destination got the green light in October 2021.

The detailed planning application for the initial phases has been approved by Blackpool Council Planning Committee. It includes the new 1306 multi storey car park and creation of the Heritage Quarter. Building the car park enables the rest of the site to be developed.

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is one of the UK’s largest pension funds. They’ve signed a contract with Nikal, the developer, to finance construction of the new multi-storey car park. Once complete, Nikal will lease the multi-storey to Blackpool Council and they will operate it too.

The 1,306 space, seven storey car park will take about 16 months to complete. Site preparation is due to begin in early Spring 2022. The timeline for the first phase of works at the Heritage Quarter is completion by Spring 2024.

From Railway Station to Attractions!

The £300m transformation of the former Blackpool Central railway station site will transform the heart of the resort. With funding secured for the first phase of works, it’s all systems go!

This plot of prime development land was once the world’s busiest railway station. Various terminus delivering routes to more destinations saw it grow to become huge by 1911. Find out all about the history of Blackpool Central Station here. There’s loads of really interesting photos – do you remember any of it back then?

Outline plans have also been passed for the rest of the site. The following phases include a major public events square, three indoor entertainment centres, a hotel, restaurants and other new hospitality and leisure spaces. The detailed planning application for the rest of the site will now be worked up. 90% of the 700 respondents to public consultation expressed their support for the plans.

The Man Behind the Plan

Alan Murphy is the main investor at the back of the scheme led by property company Nikal Investments.

He made most of his money from AM Paper, a loo roll and paper towel maker which turned recycled tissue paper into loo roll, a massive producer of own-brand products for supermarkets.

He sold the business for more than £150m in the 1990’s and is now one of the North West’s biggest property investors.

Mr Murphy lives not too far away from Blackpool in Chelford, Cheshire. He’s also father to former Hollyoaks star Davinia Taylor.

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Planning for first Phase of Blackpool Central

Following a consultation period in May 2021, the hybrid planning application went in to Blackpool Council for the vision to redevelop the Blackpool Central site into a world-class, year-round leisure destination.

Details of the first Phase

The approved, detailed planning application for the initial phases of Blackpool Central includes a new 1,306 space Multi Storey Car Park and proposals to create a Heritage Quarter.

A new multi-storey car park (MSCP)

The delivery of a new Multi Storey Car Park is critical to unlocking the wider Blackpool Central scheme as it will free up land for the future phases and ensure that there continues to be appropriate parking provision for visitors to the town and local residents.

Artist's impression of the car park, seen from Seasiders Way
Artist’s impression of the car park, seen from Seasiders Way

And a Thriving new Heritage Quarter

This includes an Artisan Food Hall with outdoor space, including al fresco dining, a new pub and hotel, and high quality Aparthotel. Other aspects of the development are included in the accompanying outline application (see below).

Sketch of proposed Heritage Quarter at Blackpool Central site
Sketch of proposed Heritage Quarter at Blackpool Central site

Proposals to create a thriving new Heritage Quarter will restore the site’s existing heritage buildings.

New Heritage Quarter and Aparthotel at Blackpool Central
New Heritage Quarter and Aparthotel at Blackpool Central, seen from Central Drive

The Grade II Listed former King Edward VII Picture House will be transformed into a new ‘Artisan Food Hall’, which spills out onto new outdoor space for ‘al fresco’ dining.

New Heritage Quarter at Blackpool Central
New Heritage Quarter outdoor dining area at Blackpool Central

The locally listed King Edward VII pub will be refurbished into a new pub and hotel, creating a modern, family friendly environment offering quality food and beverages.

New Heritage Quarter and Aparthotel at Blackpool Central
New Heritage Quarter and Aparthotel at Blackpool Central

The King Edward VII apartment building will be renovated into a high-quality ‘Aparthotel’ keeping its original character.

And the next steps…

The outline planning application for future phases of the scheme, includes:

  • a major public events square for live events,
  • three indoor entertainment centres,
  • hotel,
  • restaurants,
  • and additional leisure and hospitality space.

The top three most important aspects of the plans identified by respondents in the consultation were:

  • creation of new jobs and local economic benefits,
  • boosting Blackpool’s tourism offer,
  • and delivering new attractions.

The vast majority of feedback welcomed plans for the new Heritage Quarter and highlighted that it will help boost footfall and breathe new life into the buildings. Many residents also shared their aspiration for the scheme to be a catalyst for improving and regenerating the surrounding area and Central Drive.

Get in touch with the project team if you have any questions about the plans or would like further information.

Why it’s GREAT for Blackpool

Blackpool Central is a project of national importance and underpins the overarching regeneration strategy for the town. The scheme will complement and enhance the town’s current tourism offer, with a new year-round, world-class leisure destination. It will help drive Blackpool’s post-COVID recovery by delivering a host of significant benefits.

Proposed masterplan for the full Blackpool Central site
2021 masterplan for the full Blackpool Central site

It will also help to deliver the ambitious vision of the Blackpool Town Deal. The scheme can drive the levelling up of the town, unlocking a host of game-changing benefits:

  • Investment of up to £300m – the largest single investment in Blackpool for more than a century
  • Attract 600,000 additional visitors to the town every year, helping to future-proof Blackpool’s leisure and tourism offer
  • Boost annual spend in Blackpool by up to £75m
  • Create up to 1,000 new jobs, building a legacy of new local employment opportunities

Nikal is the developer behind the project. They understand that the Blackpool Central redevelopment underpins the overarching regeneration strategy for the town. And so they’re working closely with Blackpool Council to ensure the project unlocks this once-in-a-generation opportunity.

  • Nikal is a property developer which specialises in the imaginative redevelopment and regeneration of strategic sites across the UK and beyond.
  • Media Invest Entertainment specialises in media and entertainment and will lead on the development of the indoor theme park.


With final terms of the legal contract for the land release signed by all parties in September 2019, initial development works on the 17 acre plot can get underway.

The land disposal is based on a sale agreement by Blackpool Council to Nikal Ltd and Media Invest Entertainment. It’s for the long lease (250 years) to deliver various phases of the site. All in accordance with the masterplan approved in December 2018. DWF Legal Advisors and JLL Property Consultants acted on behalf of the council.

Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council said, “We’re delighted to finalise details of the contract. We’re confident to have secured the best possible deal for the site. The final agreed terms meet our desires and ambitions for the comprehensive redevelopment of Blackpool Central. The agreement offers Nikal and Media Invest Entertainment flexibility around the phasing programme. This will ensure the effective viability and deliverability of the project. Whilst securing the council’s ability to retain the revenue income from the site for the long term future.

“We’re looking forward to continuing work with the developers on this game-changing, high profile regeneration project.

  • It will bring in over £300m investment,
  • create over 1,000 new jobs and
  • attract more than 600,000 new visitors to Blackpool every year.

The UK’s First Flying Theatre

Nikal’s Co-founder Alan Murphy said at the time, “Blackpool has a long history of debuting state-of-the-art family entertainment. We’re excited to be delivering the UK’s first Chariots of the Gods themed attraction to the north west. We look forward to working with Blackpool Council to deliver this landmark development for the town.”

Sadly, Blackpool’s aspiration for the first flying theatre was pipped to the post by another UK attraction. And the Chariots of the Gods theme appears to have lost favour too. Another two ideas consigned to the book of unused suggestions!

Next Step: Planning Application

It’s expected that a hybrid outline/part detailed planning application for the car park will be submitted late 2020.

The Council will continue to operate and take the revenue of the majority of the existing car parking spaces on Central, Chapel Street and Bonny Street throughout the Enabling phase. This will ensure limited impact on car parking spaces in and around the town centre for visitor parking. Once the new multi-storey car park opens, the existing surface level car parks will close. Thus making way for construction of Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the development.

The site includes the town’s largest surface car park, the magistrate’s court and the former police station. All to be transformed, in several phases over 9/10 years.


In September 2019, Council Leaders announce that terms are agreed and signed with developers for lease of land at Blackpool Central. It brings a deal one step closer that will allow the £300m regeneration proposals to get underway.

Signing Heads of Terms for the Blackpool Central Development
Signing Heads of Terms for the Blackpool Central Development. L-R – Nick Payne Managing Director Nikal, Cllr Simon Blackburn Leader of Blackpool Council, Norbert Reichart, CEO of Media Invest Entertainment

“Throughout 2019 the Council continued negotiations with Nikal around the terms of the development and bringing the proposals to fruition.

Redeveloping the centre of Blackpool

The development will attract up to 600,000 additional visitors a year with an annual spend of £75m. It will also create around 1,000 new jobs.

Blackpool Central Masterplan, Chariots of the Gods Entertainment Park
Blackpool Central Masterplan, Chariots of the Gods Entertainment Park

Dec ’18: £300m Leisure Development Revealed

At a media event in December 2018, plans were revealed for the biggest single investment in Blackpool’s tourism industry for more than a century.

The £300m Blackpool Central development will bring world-class visitor attractions to a landmark site on the famous Golden Mile. Along with new hotels, restaurants, food market, event square, residential apartments and multi-storey parking.

Chariots of the Gods inspires the masterplan for the long-awaited redevelopment. It’s the global publishing phenomenon, written by Swiss author Erich Von Däniken. Exploring alien encounters and unsolved mysteries of ancient civilisations.

Chariots Of The Gods will be the main theme for Blackpool Central. Including the anchor attraction – the UK’s first “flying theatre”. A fully-immersive thrill ride that will create the incredible sensation of human flight. Take a look –

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The development is estimated to attract 600,000 additional visitors a year with a combined annual spend of £75m. It will also create around 1,000 new jobs.

New Leisure Destination at the Heart of the Resort

The Leader of Blackpool Council describes the Blackpool Central project as a potential “game changer”. Creating a unique, first-class leisure destination in the heart of the resort.

Blackpool Central Masterplan, Chariots of the Gods Entertainment Park
Blackpool Central Masterplan, Chariots of the Gods Entertainment Park

The 17-acre development site currently includes one of Blackpool’s biggest surface car parks. Along with the magistrates’ court building and the former police station. It was once earmarked as the site of a Vegas-style super-casino.

The Blackpool Central project name relates back to the days when the site housed the resort’s main railway station. At its peak, Blackpool Central Station was the busiest in the world.

More about the history of the site and it’s days as a station below.

The project is a collaboration between two companies. Nikal Ltd is a UK-based development company, and Media Invest Entertainment owns intellectual property rights to Chariots Of The Gods. Blackpool Council is working closely with both parties to help “unlock” the development opportunity. Delivery is expected to be in several phases over an eight to nine-year period.

The Blackpool Central Project

The project will incorporate several key components including:

Enabling Phase

This will provide a new 1300 space multi-storey car park replacing the existing open air car park. Plus new coach drop off facilities and public realm works.

Phase 1

The first major phase of the project will incorporate several key components. Including:

  • the UK’s first flying theatre Virtual Reality Experience,
  • Greatest Mysteries Multimedia Exhibition Space,
  • Adventure Land,
  • Thrill & Gaming Zone,
  • Alien Diner,
  • an artisan food hall, and event square
  • and a 150 bedroom hotel.

The UK’s first Flying Theatre: An extraordinary attraction that will provide an unparalleled flying sensation. The indoor theatre will be fully immersive. Enjoy on-board special effects including wind, fog, water and scents, with state-of-the-art projection and surround sound.

Flying Theatre at Blackpool Central
Flying Theatre at Blackpool Central

Virtual Reality Experience: The most advanced VR experience on an epic scale. Free-roam, multi-player capability, body tracking, and motion simulators for unmatched realism in game-play.

Greatest Mysteries: The world’s first multimedia exhibition of its type exploring extra-terrestrial influences on the great ancient civilisations. A fully-immersive educational and entertaining experience created with leading-edge technology.

Adventure Land: Expansive indoor family entertainment centre. Incorporating a series of physical and mental challenges including free-fall hang gliding, rope courses, adventure trails and interactive climbing walls.

Thrill & Gaming Zone: Fully-themed gaming zone. With thrill and family rides, arcade games, laser tag arena, bounce park and bumper cars.

Alien Diner: Themed bar and event restaurant concept with “roller coaster” service, hourly special effects shows and exploration tours.

Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

It’s a hugely significant milestone in the redevelopment of the Central Station site. This really is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that has the potential to alter the face of our town.

Cllr Blackburn added “Over more than fifty years, many ideas for this site have come and gone. The difference this time is that we have worked very hard with our fantastic partners at Nikal and MIE. Over two years this scheme has been put together. It’s not just aspirational, but highly deliverable.

“These new attractions are of ground-breaking international quality. Their cutting edge technology will take Blackpool’s tourism offer to another level.

“We already have the best amusement park in the UK, in the form of Blackpool Pleasure Beach.  These new attractions will allow thrill-seekers to enjoy their visit even more. It will attract new visitors, and encourage existing visitors to stay longer. It will create jobs, regenerate a part of the town that needs it, and boost trade.

“This new development, alongside the other investments taking place in the town, represent a game-changer for our visitor economy. We have long stated that a key objective is to create a year-round destination that delivers year-round employment. Blackpool Central will play a major part in that ambition.”

A year round attraction

Nick Payne, then Managing Director of Nikal, said: “Blackpool Central is a hugely important project for the town and the region. It’s an honour to be on board. Place-making and regeneration are the DNA of our business. We thrive on creating dynamic new spaces that inspire, excite and engage.

“It’s taken almost two years and a lot of hard work to get to this point. We know that the masterplan fully maximises the site’s potential. It will deliver a unique and ground-breaking, entertainment destination with global appeal. The project will revitalise and underpin Blackpool’s growth and regeneration.”

Norbert Reichart is CEO of Media Invest Entertainment. He said: “The unique theme of Chariots Of The Gods will merge entertainment, culture, and history. It’s an enthralling ‘Edutainment’ experience for the whole family – that can be enjoyed all year round.

“Together with some of the best companies in the industry, we’ve developed a one-of-a-kind, exciting indoor entertainment concept. Along with truly world-class attractions it will integrate perfectly into Blackpool’s pre-existing leisure cluster.

Blackpool Central – the background details

In this game of ‘town centre chess’ two important buildings needed relocating for this exciting development to be realised.

  • The police station headquarters, which has already relocated to new premises at Clifton Road, Marton.
  • And the Law Courts at Blackpool. The proposal was to relocate to the site of the former Devonshire Road Hospital. After a funding announcement in November 2022, this can now be realised.

Blackpool Council had been in negotiations for some years regarding the Blackpool Central site. Officers and councillors had travelled to Florida several times for meetings.

In November 2017 the Council Leader and Director of Place attended the IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) conference. Held at the Orange County Conference Centre in Orlando, it was the second time they’d attended.

An exclusivity and non-disclosure agreement was in place with a potential developer regarding the 20 acre site. What we now know to be an ‘attraction led’ indoor area with a themed hotel and retail.

Previous plans for the Central Car Park site included the super-casino and then an indoor snow attraction. While the plot has been awaiting a viable major development, it’s been very useful as a surface car park.

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20 thoughts on “Work begins on first Phase of Blackpool Central Car Park”

  1. Money would be better spent on poverty in Blackpool. Churches and other aides are handing out food bags to families in poverty. There many children in poverty in Blackpool, one of the worst places in the country for deprivation.
    I’m a pensioner paying £100 a month council tax and what do the council do for the elderly. They line the pockets of people in the tourist industry, but what about the residents. The council should be trying to do more for the needy and stop paying mega amounts of money for icons on the sea front and other developments.

    1. That’s true, but by creating economic opportunity people can earn a better life for themselves, lessening their dependency on local authority help. Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime.

      1. Unfortunately it seems Blackpool HAS been mainly run by Muppets and Gangsters in the past.
        Y’all need to get your leaders to stop being romantics and realise that the secret to regenerating Blackpool is to stop the xenophobia and seek to attract people from the South instead of the traditional North!! Northerners already know and love Blackpool, but live close enough to go home, whereas those from further afield would stay longer. Cheap flights from London would bring in new money and many more upmarket consumers who and those sentimental to the nostalgia that Blackpool should play on, alongside the modern up to date and futuristic developments necessary to appeal to the broadest range of visitors. Focus more on delivering a higher quality and class of product (at an affordable price point), but maintained to decent standard that will help ensure it’s longevity.

  2. I think they should leave it as a surface car park. It’s the main attraction to Blackpool for me. Many people don’t like multi-storey car parks – whether made so-called ‘accessible’, or not. I don’t use them – horrible dark concrete places – , but the central car park is great, because it’s very easy to find, and near the seafront for those who find walking difficult. The main gripe I hear about Blackpool is that there is no substantial parking available at most of the the hotels. With the coming of electric vehicles, thought needs to be put to providing lots of surface parking complete with charging points. Too many ‘amusement’-type things are not going to attract the older people who are important visitors at midweek times, and the lack of easy surface parking will put them off coming.

  3. I think we definitely need a better shopping centre in Blackpool and great to have more entertainment places but just don’t know why more hotels when there are so many ? Also I would love to see more entertainment on north peir my grandchildren love the pantos they do in the theatre when they do them just not enough goes on and it all needs to be affordable for families with children

  4. How about Blackpool actually invests in a proper shopping centre….?
    The current one is very very poor, literally just one level of shops and one level of food outlets.

    Take Cardiff as an example with its St. David’s 2 development which is an amazing success.. How about that for revenue and jobs

  5. Omg,
    This sounds awful! Immersive theatre, entertainment, and the rest, and wait -9 years to complete?
    And this will improve Blackpool????? I think not!

  6. We have been to Blackpool many times on coach holidays. The last time we saw Dr Who pictures on the lamp posts and several other interesting pictures but this year we specially came up for the lights but it was very disappointing. I don’t think we will come again.

  7. While I’m sure at the time they had good reasons to swap North station for Central station in terms of closure. I think that now with the increasing numbers of passengers and services, no real expansion space for Blackpool North and with the added bonus of it being nice to look at. They should have gone with the original plan of closing North but still closed the central line therefore having trains going through the Blackpool South line. That is just my thoughts anyway.

    1. Not feasible, would cost far too much and too many bridges in the way. Getting trams to run on the south line to link the rail system together makes more sense.

  8. I started work in 1952 as a train booker at Blackpool Central signal box which stood at the end of platforms 7&8. I then moved on to start as an engine cleaner at Rigby Road Motive Power Depot the following year where I stayed until the Beeching axe in 1963.

    I certainly remember the crowds, the late night return trains on Saturday night after dancing at the Tower and Winter Gardens to the likes of Ken Macintosh and Ted Heath , the smoke, the steam and the Victorian buildings that made up the old Central Station as well the station at Blackpool South and all the way round the coast line via Lytham.

    Are there any of the Rigby Road boys left ?

    1. Hi Brian,

      I would love to talk to you about your railway memories in and around Blackpool for a new TV series where we are looking at doing a story on the history of the railway in Blackpool.

      Please email me at fran.jarvis @ viacomstudiosuk . com


    1. Absolutely, when will Blackpool council realize this is their biggest unused asset. There are other authorities in the UK who would love to have an already built airport within their control.
      Blackpool airport has such a huge catchment area… Cumbria to name one, the good folks of this area need to travel to either Glasgow or Manchester, Blackpool would be ideal for them not to mention Preston and the rest of Lancashire.
      So much for the Northern ‘Powerhouse’ seems like the lights have gone out when it comes to Blackpool.

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