Major new conference venue will create 260 jobs

As part of a £400m plan to transform a Merseyside town, the new multi-million pound conference and events venue would attract more than 300,000 visitors a year. Tony McDonough reports

Image of the new conference and events centre planned for Southport


A new multi-million pound conference and events venue planned for Southport would create 260 new jobs and attract more than 300,000 visitors a year.

As part of a £400m plan to transform the seaside town, Sefton Council has unveiled plans for the 1,200-seater events space to replace the the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre which closed this year due to the COVID-19 crisis.

It has a working title of the Marine Lake Events Centre, suggested by one of the 300-plus schoolchildren who responded to the targeted consultation on the project. It will provide Southport with a flexible events space targeted at the mid-sized conferencing market, but with particular emphasis on the e-sports market.

The auditorium will also be suitable for large conferences, supported by a fully flexible and sub-divisible spaces, a 15,000 sq ft exhibition space capable of accommodating more than 3,000 people for major esports events. It is also designed to continue to accommodate the type of community-led events currently held in the Floral Hall.

Earlier this week it was revealed that the Southport Town Deal board was asking the Government for £50m from its Town Deals Fund. The fund is central to the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda for northern towns. The cash would unlock up to £400m of investment for a number of regeneration projects in Southport.

Cllr Ian Maher, leader of Sefton Council, said: “The existing Southport Theatre and Convention Centre has a long and proud history and is an asset that stirs great passion among Sandgrounders, in an incredible location in town, but in need of radical transformation of the building and its offer.

New conference and events centre will be able to accommodate 1,200 people


“But the venue closed earlier this year due to the pandemic, so this project would redevelop the site creating a new events complex with technical facilities, to attract a wide range of different types of entertainment events and audiences to Southport.”

Plans would also include a fully accessible new pier, extending the connections from the Upper Promenade, through the atrium to the Marine Lake, completed by a floor lighting feature at the end, will connect with the spectacular Light Fantastic installation also proposed via the Town Deal.

Cllr Maher added: “The project is the centrepiece of the Town Deal bid submitted to Government by the Southport Town Deal board, given the board’s recognition of its importance to the local economy and its prominence in the consultation and engagement feedback.

“It will also be a catalyst for wider investment and development, as evidenced by Go Surf’s vision for the Southport Cove project announced last week. Feedback on the Town Deal bid is expected in the New Year.”

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