Sefton Council moves planning committee meeting to Southport this week as it decides on the £73m Marine Lake Events Centre scheme that will create 290 jobs. Tony McDonough reports
Sefton councillors are this week expected to approve the £73m Marine Lake Events Centre (MLEC) planned for Southport.
This will be the biggest, and most significant, planning application for Southport in decades. To reflect the gravity of the decision the committee will move from its usual venue in Bootle to the The Waterfront Hotel in Southport on Thursday evening.
Members of the public are being encouraged to attend the meeting to see the verdict. Planning officers at Sefton are recommending councillors give the scheme the go-ahead.
MLEC, which will also include a spectacular water and light show on Marine Lake, is being proposed to replace the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre which closed in 2020.
In December, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities approved the release of £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. In March it announced that it had entered into a pre-construction services agreement with building giant Kier following a competitive tender process.
Offering a theatre as well as exhibition and conference facilities, the MLEC is expected to bring more than 500,000 extra visitors to the town each year. The authority has already appointed ASM Global to manage the venue once open.
Recommending approval of the application, Sefton Chief Planning Officer Derek McKenzie said: “The proposed development would make a significant contribution to the regeneration of the wider Southport area.”
He added it would lead to “increasing tourism” and offer “substantial social and economic benefits not just to Southport but Sefton”.
The proposed new development would comprise a 1,200 seat theatre (1,500 capacity seating standing), and a conference centre with a capacity of 2,400.
Proposed opening hours of the theatre are between 9am and 11pm, and the exhibition centre between 7am and 11pm.
The planning meeting will be held at The Waterfront Hotel, Promenade, Southport. PR9 0DZ from 6.30pm on Thursday, April 27.