Plans for a new 1,200-seater events space on Southport’s Marine Lake will go to public consultation this spring followed by a planning application in the summer. Tony McDonough reports
Plans for a new multi-million pound events and conference centre on Marine Lake in Southport will go out to public consultation this spring.
As part of a £400m plan to transform the coastal town, in 2020 Sefton Council unveiled plans for Marine Lake Events Centre, a 1,200-seater events space to replace the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre which was forced to close due to COVID-19.
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 e-sports events.
In February the scheme took a big step forward when the council appointed a project team of experts. It includes AFL Architects, venue and entertainment consultancy IPW, property consultancy Gardiner & Theobald and global infrastructure consultancy AECOM.
Now the council is preparing to put the project out to public consultation in May. This will be followed by the submission of a planning application in the summer. It claims Marine Lake Events Centre will lead to footfall of more than 515,000 visitors to the waterfront.
It will also create 288 jobs, and boost the town’s hotel and hospitality sector with nearly 60,000 overnight stays from conferences and events alone. It will include a café/restaurant on the site of the existing Southport Theatre and Conference Centre.
It was named following feedback from local school children during the Town Deal consultation in 2020. A water and light show is also proposed to be installed on Marine Lake.
The Marine Lake Events Centre and Marine Lake water and light show forms part of the Southport Town Deal which secured £37.5m funding in 2021. The project has also secured further support from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said: “We are really excited that the project is starting to take shape. During the consultation on the Town Deal in 2020, the need for investment in the current theatre was something lots of people wanted to see and the ‘big idea’ to animate the Marine Lake was widely welcomed.
“There are a number of aspects of the project that need careful consideration, so we have appointed an expert team to start having conversations and to help design and deliver this important project for Southport.
“We plan to undertake a wider public consultation on the plans in May, providing an opportunity for everyone to see and comment on the plans before a planning application is submitted.”