Extending Houndshill Shopping Centre - Work gets Underway

Extending Houndshill Shopping Centre – Work gets Underway

Various plans have been on the table over recent years for extending Houndshill Shopping Centre. Now, work really is beginning!

Houndshill Phase 2 Begins with a Giant Bucket and Spade!

The main construction contract at Houndshill Shopping Centre began with groundbreaking on Friday 24 September 2021. And in a style only fitting for the iconic seaside resort of Blackpool, the occasion was marked with a ceremonial first (bucket) and spade in the ground!

Pictured above are members of the development team. From left to right: Cllr Mark Smith, James Dorling Wilko, Clare Davies MMC Cinemas, Cllr Lynn Williams Leader of Blackpool Council. Back row – representatives from Eddisons, CBRE, Blackpool Council and GRAHAM

We made this video at the site when we went to look around at the end of August 2021. Now, work finally gets underway!

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Three key deals were signed in February that have enabled the scheme to begin.

  • The Council’s acquisition of Tower Street Car Park,
  • a lease agreement for a new 22,500 sq ft wilko store and
  • a deal with MMC Cinemas for a nine screen, 850 seat, 40,500 sq ft multi-media cinema complex, including the biggest immersive screen in Lancashire.

GRAHAM has been appointed as the lead contractor and CBRE the project manager and cost consultant for the scheme. The first phase enabling works involves initial utilities diversion works and preparation of site for the main building works to follow. This first phase of the project will be complete by Winter 2022.

Schedule of works:

  • Tower Street Car Park is now closed but the Houndshill multi-storey car park will remain open throughout the project.
  • Alternative short-stay and long-stay car parks are available across town, including pay and display on-street parking in the vicinity and nearby open air car parks at East Topping Street, Bonny Street and Central, as well as West Street multi-storey.
  • The site is now fenced off for the duration of the building works but pedestrian access will still be available and the Houndshill retailers are not be affected
  • The section of the northbound carriageway of Coronation Street which runs adjacent to the development site at Tower Street Car Park will be closed to traffic 
  • A temporary three-way signal system around the junction of Coronation Street and Adelaide Street will control traffic past the site, ensuring that access to and from Houndshill Car Park, the M&S collection point and the staff entrance to the Winter Gardens is maintained. 

High Quality Retail and Leisure

Cllr Lynn Williams is Leader of Blackpool Council. She said “We’re committed to diversifying and modernising the town centre to encourage residents and visitors to choose Blackpool as their main shopping centre of choice. This means celebrating our well known heritage buildings, driving footfall to new areas of the town and encouraging people to stay for longer. The Houndshill Phase 2 extension will deliver a new range of high-quality entertainment, retail and leisure choices. They’ll meet the needs of the modern family, complement the existing shops at the Houndshill, boost both day and night time business, and increase the amount of time and money spent in the town centre.

“For the town centre to prosper we must continue to provide new reasons to attract resident and visitors. And extend the time of visits into the evening with more entertainment and leisure choices that the whole family can enjoy. New purpose-built, ultra-modern buildings that can adapt to ever-evolving consumer aspirations are important and will shape how we use our town centre in the future.”

The phase two extension also includes two restaurants totalling 3,760 sq ft that will be delivered to shell specification. The Council is in talks with potential leisure operators for these units and remains open to all enquiries.

Regenerating the Town Centre

Blackpool Council bought Houndshill Shopping Centre in November 2019 for £47.6m as part of its strategy for regeneration in the town centre. The overall scheme has been made possible with £5m of funding from the Government’s COVID-19 Getting Building Fund, following formal approval by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in October last year. Blackpool Council will fund the balance of the scheme through prudential borrowing.

Tower Street Development - Extending Houndshill Shopping Centre
Tower Street Development – Extending Houndshill Shopping Centre

In February 2021 a trio of deals were announced. This included:

  • the completion of the purchase by the council of the Tower Street Car Park Site, enabling the development of (and lease agreements with): 

New Cinema

  • Tower Cinemas (Blackpool) Ltd, trading as MMC Cinemas, for a unique cinema/conferencing and entertainment centre providing an 850 seat venue, with nine state-of-the-art digital screens, including a giant PLF (Premium Large Screen Format) IMAX-ready central screen, set to be the largest in the North West, within a 40,500 sq ft unit. Designs also include flexible seating to allow screens to double as conference venue spaces, designated incubator space for the region’s digital and media start-up businesses, and an e-sports café. 

    It marks the official start of a new cinematic journey for Blackpool with a new complex that pays homage to the heritage of this exceptional town. It’s not a ready-made cinema brand for Blackpool; Blackpool will help to shape this flexible arts and community space. Operators MMC are already in discussions with local interest groups and want to hear from more. This will be a place where people can come together and make use of this flexible space for education, leisure, shopping, entertainment, workspaces and so much more.

New Wilko

  • Wilko, for the return of the hardware and household retailer on the site of Tower Street Car Park. Wilko, formerly located at the old Fine Fare building on Talbot Road, will take a 15-year lease with the council on the new, purpose-built 22,500 sq ft unit 

The completed scheme will deliver:

  • Over 100 jobs created both directly through the scheme and locally
  • 0.5 acres of brownfield land developed
  • 76,500 sq. ft. of new commercial floorspace
  • Approx. over 260 construction jobs created over the build period  
  • Increase of 1.2m shoppers and visitors to the Houndshill Shopping Centre

Exciting Progress!

Debbs Lancelott is Centre Manager at Houndshill Shopping Centre. She said: “Ever since the detailed plans were revealed, we’ve been excited to see the project progress. 

“We remain open as normal and have a fantastic selection of more than 50 national and independent retailers who are all looking forward to welcoming shoppers and diners over the coming months. 

“After a challenging 18 months, we’re delighted to see an increase of families visiting Blackpool for both shopping and entertainment. It’s heartening to see the town coming back to life. The Houndshill car park is a popular choice not just for shoppers, but for theatregoers and visitors to the Illuminations too. With that in mind, we expect that there may be some delays when exiting the car park at peak times as the sheer volume can sometimes cause delays. 

“Our staff are on hand to assist shoppers during these times, ensuring that we maintain our services to the highest standard possible.” 

Three New Deals for Extending Houndshill Shopping Centre

Published Feb 2021

Unique multimedia and cinema plans at the heart of Blackpool town centre investment.  

Blackpool Council has signed three key deals that will help transform the town centre, including an innovative, multimedia, entertainment venue. Work is expected to begin on the Tower Street site in March and be completed by Spring 2022.

  • A 25 year lease with Tower Cinemas (Blackpool) Ltd for a nine-screen, IMAX-ready multimedia complex.
  • The return of hardware and household retailer Wilko with a 15-year lease with the Council on a new, purpose-built 22,500 sq ft unit on the site of the Tower Street car park. Wilko was located at the old Fine Fare building on Talbot Road, recently demolished for next phase of the Talbot Gateway development which includes a tram interchange, four-star Holiday Inn and Marco Pierre White restaurant.
  • Completion of a contract for the sale of Tower Street outdoor car park to enable the £20m Houndshill phase two development to go ahead. Coolsilk, the developer behind The Sands Venue Resort Hotel and Spa, previously owned the site.

The Cinema

The development sees Tower Cinemas (Blackpool) Ltd, trading as MMC Cinemas, launch a unique Multimedia Cinema/Conferencing and Entertainment centre providing a 850 seat venue, with 9 state-of-the-art digital screens, including a giant PLF (Premium Large Screen Format) IMAX-ready central screen, set to be the largest in the North West, within a 40,500 sq ft unit.

Designs also include flexible seating to allow screens to double as conference venue spaces, designated incubator space for the region’s digital/media start-up businesses, and an e-sports café. A website on the new cinema development is live at MMC Cinemas

John Sullivan is founder of MMC Cinemas. He said “Blackpool has an astonishing heritage as a leisure destination for the North West region and beyond, and this multi-media centre is set to re-cement that reputation. Its flexible design is geared to the needs of the town and wider Lancashire. It’s not just a destination venue to experience the latest cinema releases, but is also flexible to enable conferences, space to encourage developing local business and much, much more. We’re particularly excited about its ability for Blackpool to tap into the growing e-sports trend with dedicated gaming space. It’s a true privilege to be bringing this unique entertainment and business hub to the local area.”

The Shop

A spokesperson for wilko said; “After a lot of searching, we’re delighted to have finally found a new home for our store. We’re looking forward to providing Blackpool families with all their hardware and household needs for years to come.”

Other Premises

The phase two extension includes two restaurants totalling 3,760 sq ft. The Council’s in advanced negotiations with leisure operators for these units.

The Regeneration

The multimedia cinema complex alone will create 30 full time jobs. It will act as the catalyst for multimedia training, and business incubation.

The overall scheme has been made possible by £5m of funding from the Government’s COVID-19 Getting Building Fund. That’s following formal approval by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in October last year. Blackpool Council will fund the balance of the scheme through prudential borrowing.

The Council acquired the Houndshill Shopping Centre in for £47.6m in November 2019 as part of its long-term strategy to revitalise the town centre.

Grahams will be the main contractor on the Tower Street site with CBRE as the project build managers and cost consultants. Eddison is the property management company for Houndshill Shopping Centre. Units will be fitted out by the new tenants. The extension will connect to the existing centre at both ground and first floor levels.

Funding for Houndshill Shopping Centre – Phase 2 Development

In August 2020, Blackpool successfully secured £8.6m of funding for two ‘shovel ready’ town centre regeneration projects. The Getting Building Fund will give the economy a quick boost, post Covid-19. The aim is to generate new development activity within 18 months, to help create jobs and raise overall demand in the economy.

Both of Blackpool Councils projects have secured funding from the Getting Building Fund. The Houndshill extension is one, and Abingdon Street Market the other.

Houndshill Shopping Centre
Houndshill Shopping Centre

More about Extending Houndshill Shopping Centre

Like a giant game of chess, one town centre development is dependent on another. Primarily because of works at the new tramway extension at Talbot Road/Wilkinson’s at North Shore. Lining all of these big regeneration projects up to deliver seamlessly in a row is a huge challenge!

As part of its strategy to revitalise the town centre Blackpool Council purchased the Houndshill Shopping Centre in November 2019 for £47.6m. The aim is to support its sustainability and to re-purpose parts of it through the delivery of a transformational leisure and retail development.

The scheme has a number of objectives. They include:

  • Creating new complementary leisure uses,
  • Securing the site for the tramway terminus, enabling the tramway extension at Talbot Road
  • Allowing the planned relocation of the existing Wilko store,
  • Providing new amenities
  • Promoting increased investor confidence in the area.

We went for a walk-through the centre in June 2020, just as non-essential stores opened following coronavirus lockdown –

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Improving the Town Centre

This £19.5m development will construct the new extension. The site is land between the Winter Gardens and Houndshill entrance, adjacent to New Look. Previously, the land between Coronation Street and Tower Street, was a temporary surface car park.

Temporary car park between Tower Street and Coronation Street, site for extending Houndshill Shopping Centre
Temporary car park between Tower Street and Coronation Street, site for extending Houndshill Shopping Centre

Visit Fylde Coast took a walk round the site in August 2020, before any of the redevelopment work gets going. Take a look –

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Blackpool Council acquires Houndshill Shopping Centre

In November 2019 Blackpool Council acquires Houndshill Shopping Centre in a move aimed at catalysing the regeneration of the town centre. The Council had been in discussions for some time with the previous owner of the centre, BCC Eiffel and its funders.

Blackpool Council decided to step in following the appointment of receivers who had taken over the running of the centre. The Centre was bought for £47.6m. A lot of money but less than half the price originally paid by BCC. The move follows several months of negotiation, due diligence and extensive advice from leading national retail experts.

With more than 60 outlets it’s the largest shopping centre on the Fylde Coast, in a key location in Blackpool town centre. As part of the purchase, the Council will also take ownership of the 770-space multi-storey car park.

Investing in Blackpool’s Future

The acquisition will secure the future of the centre. But it also facilitates investment in a Phase Two development of Houndshill. That includes restaurants and a cinema, providing a significant boost for the night time economy.

A Blackpool Council spokesperson, said: “This is a hugely positive move for the town that will give us direct control over the Fylde Coast’s major retail centre.

“This acquisition will deliver a significant financial return to the Council. More importantly, it will allow us to invest in a shopping centre that is fundamentally important to Blackpool’s future. Moving the centre into Council ownership will provide significant benefits to our town and our residents.

Previous Plans for the Site

You might have seen various site investigations taking place there over the years. Rigs have taken core samples and carried out various other tests.

Site investigations at the site of extending Houndshill Shopping Centre
Site investigations in 2016 at the site of extending Houndshill Shopping Centre

Earlier unsuccessful plans in 2016 had included a new hotel, as reported in the Gazette.

2016 plans for a new hotel at the Houndshill site
2016 plans for a new hotel at the Houndshill site

Do you remember the old buildings on this plot? How time flies – February 2011 was when they were demolished!

Demolishing buildings between the Houndshill and Winter Gardens
Demolishing buildings between the Houndshill and Winter Gardens

While you’re here…

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