The town of Southport is to receive £37.5 million from the government’s Towns Fund from which five major projects are set to benefit, as is another ongoing initiative at Southport Pleasureland, LBN Daily has reported.
The Southport Town Deal Board had originally applied for £50 million from the Towns Fund, but it is nevertheless hoped that the projects boosted by the £37.5 million eventually attained will transform the local economy and stimulate other funding and investment opportunities.
Four of the five principal projects focus on the local leisure and tourism industry, the town’s prized asset, while the other includes plans for a new business incubator aimed at helping SMEs and start-ups in the local area.
Rachel Fitzgerald, chief executive of Southport BID, wrote for LBN in late 2020, saying: “The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown into sharp focus how towns and cities that rely heavily on a single sector are more vulnerable to economic shocks. We must begin to expand our thinking and create a future vision for Southport that will offer people real opportunities. A thriving, diverse place where people will come to live and work.”
The five main projects that will benefit from the Town Deal include Southport’s Marine Lake Events Centre project to transform the existing Southport Theatre and Convention Centre into an entertainment and business events venue; the creation of a UK-first light, water and sound show at Southport’s Marine Lake; refurbishment of the local Crown Buildings to create a new enterprise arcade for the town’s creative, digital and technology industry; a project to deliver new high-quality public spaces and an accessible and well-connected public transport network in the town; and a Building Better Customer Experience geared toward delivering an array of training and development programmes for all who have contact with visitors and customers in the town.
Project Barnum is another development which will directly benefit from the Town Deal, which is where Southport Pleasureland, operated by Universal Rides, is set to benefit.
This initiative will see a new indoor visitor attraction built at the Southport Pleasureland site, and the ongoing project will be buoyed by Towns Fund investment to help with its completion.
The investment from the Southport Town Deal will cover the full cost of some of the projects, but not all, and The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is continuing to work on generating more funding to help complete all of the projects included as part of its own Town Investment Plan.
Sefton Council leader, Ian Maher, told LBN: “We are looking forward to the next phase of the Town Deal and building on the good work of the board. The council will now develop and deliver robust final business cases for the projects which will demonstrate the full benefits of each in economic and social terms.
“This step will be completed in the next 12 months, after which the £37.5 million promised by government would be delivered.”
Steve Rotheram, the metro mayor of the Liverpool City Region, commented: “Like many people, I’ve got lots of happy memories of going to Southport as a kid. It is great to see these exciting projects to help breathe new life into the town moving forwards.
“Southport is still a vital part of our region’s visitor economy and I’m sure this funding will assist in the regeneration of what is one of the North West’s great seaside towns. I’ll be continuing to work closely with Sefton Council to support their plans for the town and the wider borough.”