Town Deal funding for £73m Southport Marine Lake project is released as Government approves business case. Tony McDonough reports
Plans for the new £73m Marine Lake Events Centre (MLEC) have taken a big step forward after the Government approved the business case for the project.
This formal approval by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) will see £33.3m released from the Town Deal Fund. This adds to the £20m being put towards the scheme by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
Sefton Council intends to borrow £19.7m to complete the funding package for the MLEC which replaces the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre which closed in 2020.
Offering a 1,500-capacity theatre as well as exhibition and conference facilities, the MLEC will also include a lakeside sound and light show attraction. It is expected to create 200 jobs and bring more than 500,000 extra visitors to the town each year.
DLUHC officials congratulated Sefton Council and the Southport Town Deal team on ‘an ambitious project for the benefit’ of Southport and the Liverpool city region.
Sefton Council has already started preparatory works at the site to ensure the project can get under way swiftly once planning permission is secured. It has chosen US firm ASM Global as its preferred operating partner.
Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, Cllr Marion Atkinson said: “The Marine Lake Events Centre is a hugely exciting and hugely important scheme for Southport and Sefton.
“This and the other Town Deal schemes will be game-changing for the economy of Southport and Sefton and will provide a huge boost for local businesses as well as opportunities for new ones.
“It’s critical that, subject to planning approval, we can now get on and deliver for the residents of Sefton.”
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram added: “This is fantastic news for Southport and our plans to reinvigorate the town’s visitor economy, which attracts thousands upon thousands of tourists to Liverpool city region every year.
“This is the difference devolution can make. It’s giving local areas the opportunity to invest and develop projects such as the MLEC that will make a real difference to local people, creating good quality, secure jobs and training opportunities.”