Restoration of Winter Gardens Frontage

Restoration of Winter Gardens Frontage

After winning the approval of Blackpool Council, the restoration of the Winter Gardens frontage is now set to take place. Installation of new shop fronts will make the building look like new!

Restoration of Winter Gardens Frontage

Over the years, the St John’s Square facing side of the Winter Gardens has evolved into a bit of a mish-mash of different shop styles. But in summer 2021 plans were given the go-ahead to upgrade the historic facade of the Grade II* listed Winter Gardens.

We went to take a look on 1 September 2021, just after plans were agreed and before any changes are made –

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A council planning report said the investment seeks “to unify the existing ground floor frontage. At present it’s made up of a row of shop fronts which differ in design and appearance. They don’t relate well to the upper floors of the buildings.”

The proposal is to install new shop fronts using hardwood timber, with large windows and awnings. “To achieve an active and open frontage”.

Shop units in the Empress Buildings overlooking St John’s Square will be restored as close as possible to their original state. The restoration will mirror earlier work carried out at the Church Street entrance. Replacing the doors there has transformed the look of the building.

Restored side entrance doors at Winter Gardens
Restored side entrance doors at Winter Gardens

Council Approval

Heritage and planning officers at Blackpool Council approved the proposal in August 2021.

Work is due to begin ‘imminently’ as of the end of November 2021. Here at Visit Fylde Coast we think it’s a fair bet that work won’t begin until after Christmas. After all, there’s so much going on this year!

Approved with delegated powers. Blackpool Civic Trust, the Theatres Trust and the council’s own built heritage manager all gave their approval to the application.

The Theatres Trust said: “The plans seek to revert the shop fronts which form part of the Winter Gardens complex back to a traditional style with hardwood timber frames. This would unify them, as they are currently of contrasting and insensitive styles which detracts from the significance of the complex and the wider setting.

“The proposals do not impact on the operation and function of the theatre and performance spaces within the Winter Gardens. It would enhance the buildings’ appearance and contribute towards efforts to revitalise the wider area.”

Restoration of Winter Gardens Frontage
Restoration of Winter Gardens Frontage

Funding the Project

Restoration of Winter Gardens Frontage will be paid for out of the council’s £7.84m Quality Corridors project. In turn, the Quality Corridors Project is funded through the Growth Deal.

Quality Corridors includes the £2.3m Property Improvement Scheme. This scheme has upgraded the external appearance of more than 20 properties on Topping Street, Church Street, Talbot Road, Cedar Square, Deansgate and Edward Street.

History of the Winter Gardens

The Empress Buildings were built in 1894, originally with four bays set either side of a wide central bay. The impressive arched entrance to the Empress Ballroom was where people arrived by carriage.

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