Regeneration and a return to politics for Blackpool’s historic Winter Gardens – Latest
Blackpool’s stunning new Conference & Exhibition Centre is now open! We worked with Bisset Adams to deliver the new £28 million landmark scheme in Blackpool’s historic Winter Gardens, as a key part of the local council’s investment and regeneration strategy for the future.
Launching this week as host to the Conservative Party Conference, the new steel-framed building is one of the largest venues of its kind in the north of England, with state-of-the-art facilities, a new environmentally controlled exhibition space, a new atrium reception and entrance to the Winter Gardens. With 2,400sq metres of dedicated space, it will increase the overall capacity of the complex to cater for up to 7,000 delegates.
The return of the first major political conference in 15 years is symbolic of the regeneration that is taking place in Blackpool and the town’s ambition to boost tourism and become a major player in the conference market. It is estimated that this weekend’s Tory Spring Forum will add £2.4m to the town's economy.
It was a challenging project for a number of reasons. As a live site that welcomes thousands of visitors, it was necessary to develop an intricate sequence of works and install temporary bridges so that construction could continue while visitors continued to enjoy a full art and performance programme in the complex.
The site was also highly constrained and surrounded by listed buildings, including the Winter Gardens Ballroom and Opera House which are celebrated examples of Victorian architecture. Works were delayed to address corrosion and treat the steel frames on perimeter buildings, which were in a state of decay.
Elliott Wood was brought in part-way through the design process to provide structural engineering services. We were able to simplify the original design, speeding up the construction process, reducing costs and reducing the weight of steelwork in the building by 40 tonnes.
It has been a pleasure to work with Blackpool Council and help them achieve their ambition to see the Winter Gardens restored to its former glory. It will see the return of a wide range of political, cultural and social events to one of the UK’s most iconic entertainment destinations. This has been both one of our most challenging and rewarding projects in recent years and certainly one that is tangibly helping to Engineer a Better Society for locals and visitors to the town alike.