£400m plan to transform Mersey town

Merseyside town submits £50m bid to the Government’s Town Deals Fund that will kick-start a £400m investment programme, creating 1,250 jobs. Tony McDonough reports

£400m plan will look to transform Southport town centre


A £400m plan for the transformation of Southport will see new visitor attractions, a convention centre and business incubators and the creation of 1,250 jobs.

Southport Town Deal board is asking the Government for £50m from the Town Deals Fund, developed to ‘level up’ and drive the economic regeneration of towns across England. This will kickstart the £400m investment programme.

The Southport Town Deal bid includes a new convention and events centre on the site of the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre, which closed earlier this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The space would house a 1,200-seat auditorium, exhibition halls as well as a cafe and co-working space. The facility has been designed for flexible use and targeted at attracting new types of events such as esports to the North West region.

The plan also aims to regenerate the town centre and drive business growth. Lord Street, the town’s grand boulevard that inspired the Champs Elysees, would be restored to its former glory and a new events space created.

A business incubator is proposed in one of Southport’s former shopping arcades providing much needed space for the town’s digital and creative businesses. A larger Enterprise Store would also be developed in a former department store building to provide scale-up accommodation for growing businesses.

An immersive water, light and sound show experience is proposed on the Marine Lake. And the existing Southport Pleasureland would also be transformed, partnering with a globally recognised brand to create a themed indoor attraction open to visitors all year round.

Rob Fletcher, chair of the 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.”

Southport Theatre and Convention Centre
Town Deal plans will see the creation of the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre


A decision on the funding is expected early 2021 and further details of projects will be released in the next few weeks. Dwayne Johnson, chief executive of Sefton Council, added: “The Town Deal process has raised the profile of Southport with investors and we can already see the positive effect it is having.

“For example, Sefton Council has just announced an exclusivity agreement with GoSurf to create The Southport Cove Resort. This £40m privately financed investment will bring a unique surf wave pool and wellness and spa facilities to the heart of the town.

“The resort will add value to our Town Deal plan and complement our proposed projects, such as the convention and events centre and Marine Lake experience.”

Planning and development consultancy, Turley has supported the Town Deal Board through the process.

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