Southport Pleasureland CEO Norman Wallis has revealed his ambition to see Southport become the UK’s number one seaside destination.
Mr Wallis has been developing his ambitious plans to transform his park into an all weather, all your round attraction for the past few years.
And now the Southport Town Deal Board has submitted its £50million proposals to the Government for a number of schemes to improve the town, which aim to complement the Southport Pleasureland vision.
Over 7,000 people took part in the consultation through the Town Deal scheme, which was partially carried out through Stand Up For Southport.
A ‘Southport Masterplan’ was subsequently drawn up which reveals the future vision for the town, which welcomed 9.1million visitors last year.
Central to that Masterplan is the transformation of Pleasureland into an all weather attraction which would be open to visitors throughout the year.
It would complement proposals within Southport Town Deal which include:
- a new ‘waterside events centre’, to replace Southport Theatre
- plans to restore Lord Street ‘to its former glory’ with a new events space
- a spectacular immersive light show in the Marine Lake
- new business incubators and an ‘Enterprise Store’ to help firms grow
The funding aims to kickstart a wider £400m investment in the town and bring 1,250 additional jobs to the area as a result of the initial projects.
Norman Wallis said: “As part of the Town Deal community consultation process ‘Create a new, all weather visitor attraction at Pleasureland’ came out as the number one priority for the people of Southport.
“It was interesting to see that the second priority for the people of Southport was to ‘Animate the Marine Lake to create spectacular displays’ as this was an idea I originally proposed some five years ago, so it’s great to see that this is also being included in the Town Deal submission.
“Although the Town Deal is a new opportunity, the development of the Pleasureland site is something that we have been working on for a number of years.
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“We are working with an internationally recognised brand to bring a branded Intellectual Property to the park, which will really put Southport on the map and make us the number one seaside destination in the UK.
“Our project will see a huge increase in year-round employment opportunities for staff to look after the increased visitor numbers, putting us on a par with parks like Alton Towers and Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
“If successful the support from the Town Deal fund will go towards the costs of enabling and infrastructure works that will be required to be put in place for the benefit of all of Southport.
“All of the projects highlighted in the Town Deal submission will help to benefit the whole town and I welcome all the positive developments and ideas that have been included as they will all contribute to making Southport a great place to live, work and visit for generations to come.”
However Mr Wallis warned that great care must be taken over how the town’s future is planned.
He said: “We need to be careful not to ride the crest of a wave only to fall on the concrete rocks because we didn’t plan everything out carefully in advance. Planning is an evolutionary process and we need to ensure the whole town plan is integrated to future proof it for generations to come.
“The small details are often easily overlooked, but can be the most important aspects which must not be forgotten.
“We need to protect the environment and ensure that all the developments we build now make use of the latest eco technology to protect our wonderful coastline and nature. As in nature, the plans we put in place now need to allow space to grow for the future and for ideas that haven’t even yet been conceived, but which could in the future contribute to making our town even better.
“One very important aspect to consider in all these plans is parking and integration of the whole town, so that the whole of Southport works as one well-oiled machine.”
The Southport Town Deal bid is part of the Government’s Towns Fund, developed to ‘level up’ and drive the economic regeneration of towns across England.
The first £1million of Southport Town Deal funding has already been granted by Ministers.
It has seen £900,000 go towards transforming Southport Market into a brand new food, drink and events hub, with building work starting this week.
A further £100,000 in match funding has gone towards Southport BID to create new decorative lighting along Lord Street.
Rob Fletcher, Chair of the Southport Town Board said: “Our plan has been informed by the biggest conversation that the town has ever had about its future.
“We’ve had 7,000 pieces of individual feedback from residents, business and visitors. 700 school children from the town have also put their ideas forward.
“Our plan is designed to provide opportunities for our current residents and future generations.”
A decision on the funding is expected early 2021 and further details of projects will be released in the next few weeks.
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