Work starts on £73m Marine Lake Events Centre

Work starts on the £73m Marine Lake Events Centre in Southport, a development that will eventually create 290 jobs. Tony McDonough reports

Marine Lake
Image of proposed new events and conference centre on Marine Lake in Southport


Main contractor Kier has started work on the £73m Marine Lake Events Centre (MLEC) in Southport with demolition of the existing facility soon to begin.

In April Sefton Council gave the go-ahead for the MLEC which, when open, will see the creation of 290 jobs. It will replace the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre which closed in 2020. The project is being led by the council.

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.

It is one of a number of schemes being developed as a result of the successful bid for £37.5m of Town Deal funding for Southport.

A significant proportion of this funding is for the MLEC, as well as for the Light Fantastic, a water, light and sound show in the adjacent Marine Lake.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (CA) have approved £17.7m of funding for the centre. This was on top of £2.3m the CA had already committed to the pre-development work.

Sefton Council will also provide funding of up to £19.7 million for the project. It intends to borrow the money. The council estimates the MLEC will generate £18m each year for the town.

Hoardings are now being put around the site, and service diversions are being undertaken. Initial works will see Kier remove historic assets from Southport Theatre and Convention Centre prior to the demolition of the building.

It is expected that demolition works will take a number of months, but first major utility diversions will be undertaken that will see critical work to water and electrical connections around the site.

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills said:  “Getting contractors on site is the start of our fantastic, shared vision for the future of Southport’s waterfront and tourism economy becoming a reality.


MLEC, Southport
Sefton Council and Kier Group representatives at the site of the Marine Lake Events Centre
Marine Lake
Image of proposed new events and conference centre on Marine Lake in Southport


“By attracting more than 500,000 additional visitors to Southport year on year and generating an extra £18m for the local economy annually, the centre and accompanying light show will be transformational for the town.

“They support our key objectives of providing more reasons to visit, to stay, to stay longer, and to do so all year round. And all of these will mean the creation of quality employment and career opportunities in the area.

“From the moment we revealed this ambitious project, we have sought the views and feedback of those living and working near to the site, as well as the wider community.”

READ MORE: Liverpool city region tourism value now above £5bn

Further updates will be provided before the start of the main demolition and enabling works take place.

Steve Rotheram added: “Southport holds a special place in the hearts of so many people in our city region and beyond. While we’re incredibly proud of the town’s history and heritage, I firmly believe that Southport’s best days still lie ahead.

““Building on its legacy as a tourist town, I want to ensure that Southport can continue to thrive and attract visitors for many years to come.”

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