Plans unveiled for Winter Gardens conference centre

Full plans to build a conference and exhibition centre as part of the Winter Gardens complex have been revealed.

The brand new conference centre will increase the capacity of the Winter Gardens, allowing it to host over 7000 conference delegates at any one time; potentially bringing major conferences back to the resort as well as creating jobs and boosting the local economy.

And a planning application submitted today by architects Bisset Adams has finally shown the scale of the development; including how the new centre will link up with the existing complex and the how the style of the new construction will complement the heritage of the current buildings.

The new centre, to be built on the site of the former car park on Leopold Grove, is hoped to start construction in winter 2017, with a view to welcoming conferences by spring 2019.

The project, which is expected to cost around £25m, is subject to successful funding bids to the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and the Coastal Communities Fund.

Cllr Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “This is a really exciting step forward in upgrading the Winter Gardens to a conference venue fit for the twenty-first century.

“We already know that the Empress Ballroom and the Opera House provide perfect venues for keynote speakers and housing delegates, but to have a proper exhibition and welcoming space is exactly what is needed to try and bring major league conferencing back to the resort.

“We are keen to make sure that while the design for the new centre is contemporary, it still remains in keeping with the historical and heritage aspects of the rest of the Winter Gardens, and have been talking with heritage experts to make sure that we can retain the beauty of the Winter Gardens building within the new build.

Blackpool Council has commissioned the plans from architects Bisset Adams, who previously worked on designing the refurbishment of Central Library in Blackpool, along with Max Fordham Mechanical and Electrical Engineers, Morgan Tucker Civil and Structural Engineers and Right Solution conference consultants.

The brief was to create a high quality contemporary building which respected the historical and architectural significance of the rest of the complex, but which offers innovative solutions to the challenges of twenty first century conferencing, such as security, as well as providing an improved public realm and environmentally friendly build.