In the first in a series of articles on the leisure, tourism and retail sectors, Harrison Drury’s Roger Spence discusses the major opportunities on the radar for Blackpool.
From closure to high flying ambition
The decision to create an Enterprise Zone at Blackpool Airport represents an astonishing turnaround in the town’s fortunes following the closure of the airport in October 2014.
The site could be transformed into a vibrant commercial hub supporting up to 140 new businesses as a result of the government’s Enterprise Zone announcement.
It follows a successful bid submitted by Lancashire Enterprise Partnership in January, which was endorsed by chancellor George Osborne in his March budget. The project is now gathering significant momentum and early-stage projects could start up almost immediately.
The LEP believes the ambitious Enterprise Zone project could generate 3,000 sustainable new jobs by 2030.
Equally exciting is the prospect of regular commercial flights returning to the airport, which would restore a historic aviation link going back over 100 years.
The news also paves the way for Blackpool and the Fylde College to submit a planning application for a £9 million Energy Headquarters on the airport site for the training of highly skilled onshore oil and gas specialists.
Enterprising options are available
Enterprise zones operate by facilitating generous tax breaks and fast-track planning processes for new businesses moving into the zone. In addition to the Energy HQ, hopes are high that planning applications will follow from businesses in the food and drink sector, along with professional services firms.
Reinventing ‘Brand Blackpool’
As well as the positive sea-change in Blackpool’s business prospects, the town’s tourism industry has also seen a significant upturn due to a major rebranding strategy aiming to recapture Blackpool’s ‘innocence’.
In 2014/15 Blackpool welcomed 16.8 million visitors, generating an impressive £1.33 billion for the local economy. Given that London attracted 18.8 million visitors in 2015, this is clearly a remarkable achievement and a welcome indication of the green shoots of recovery that Blackpool needs.
Major events such as the fireworks championship, Blackpool air show and illuminations (now running for the 137th year) are already penned in the diary for 2016, which will continue to attract tourists throughout the year.
With other council-backed regeneration projects in the pipeline, plus investment from the private sector, it seems, as one mobile phone business once said: “The future is bright, the future is orange.”
Harrison Drury has a team of legal specialists advising businesses in the leisure, tourism and retail sector. Our team can support businesses on a wide range of legal matters, including property, employment, regulatory, licensing and business protection issues.
For more information on how we can help you, speak to Roger Spence, head of the leisure, tourism and retail team at Harrison Drury on 01772 258321.