Once-loved UK seaside town’s failed plans for ‘Super Casino’ with ‘unlimited jackpots’ | UK | News

January 13, 2024
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In its heyday Blackpool was the jewel in the crown of British seaside resorts. Punters would travel from all over to visit the Pleasure Beach, Tower Ballroom and to sample the area’s famous fish and chips.

But today the city is characterised by a sense of ‘what was’ rather than ‘what is’. The once-loved seafront is lined with boarded up shops and there has been reports of children walking the street bare-foot, dodging drug-riddled addicts.

Local and national politicians have mooted plans to regenerate the area, and in November 2022 the Department for Levelling Up found £40m to finance a relocation of the Magistrates’ and County Courts which in turn would allow a £300m development to take place.

The plans are expected to create 1,000 jobs and “attract 600,000 more visitors to the seaside town each year”. However, this latest initiative isn’t the first attempt at breathing new life into the seaside city. Plans meant to save Blackpool have failed before.

In 2006, architectural company Gensler – who incidentally are also involved in the ongoing regeneration project – unveiled an image of its proposed £350 million 160,000msq Conference and Casino Quarter in Blackpool.

Of the plans, the firm said: “Gensler won a dual appointment as both master planner and architect for Blackpool’s new Conference and Casino Quarter.

“Seen as a key part of the £1.4bn master plan to transform Blackpool into a resort with international appeal, the development will contain 2.7 million square feet of entertainment, hotel, conferencing and casino development on a 20-acre site.

“The United Kingdom’s first ‘super casinos’ aim to be the star attraction of the site and were designed to strengthen Blackpool’s reputation as a destination that evokes fun and excitement.”

However, as radical as the proposals promised to be, the plan did not come to pass. Why? Because Blackpool’s big brother Manchester got given the go-ahead to build the ‘super casino’ instead.

There were three possible locations the Tony Blair Government was considering to grant the licence to construct the gambling mecca in: Blackpool, east Manchester and at the site of the O2 in Greenwich, east London. 

In the end, despite the numerous economic benefits it promised Blackpool, it was Manchester that got the go-ahead.

Reacting to the gut-punch Steve Weaver, the city council’s then-chief executive, said residents were “surprised and hugely disappointed” the panel did not give it the project.

He said in January 2007: “It just just makes us more determined not to give up.” The city being overlooked for the Vegas-style casino, which would have boasted 1,250 unlimited-jackpot fruit machines, came as a bitter shock, as it was widely understood that it was going head-to-head with Greenwich.

To make matters worse, the next PM, Gordon Brown, scrapped the super casino plan entirely that same year.

A spokesperson for Blackpool Council told Express.co.uk last week: “As a local authority, we are wholly committed to improving the quality of life of our town’s residents, as well as continuing to attract the millions of visitors who come to Blackpool every year because they love it so much.

“Whilst Blackpool is so well known for fun and happy times, like many other seaside towns it is faced with both economic and health challenges including high levels of deprivation, dependency and social need and we are doing much to tackle these issues head on.

“Working proactively alongside our colleagues in the NHS, as well as other partners we provide a number of health and welfare schemes to try and ensure that families, children and individuals get the help and advice that they need.

“At the same time we also need to look to the future. So we along with partners are investing heavily in Blackpool in a diverse range of development projects to drive economic regeneration, create new jobs to help our communities, and deliver an improved environment for residents and visitors alike.”



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