An artist's impression of the new Marine lake Events Centre in Southport

The brand new Marine Lake Events Centre is of “critical importance to the future regeneration of Southport” say the architects behind the ambitious scheme. 

A full planning application for the £75million “market leading” development, which would also include a Water and Light Show on the Marine Lake, has now been submitted by Sefton Council. 

They claim it will “re-establish Southport as an attractive destination for leisure and business visitors alike”. 

The new development would replace the former Southport Theatre and Convention Centre which has been closed since March 2020, and has been deemed no longer fit for purpose due to a catalogue of building defects. 

The ambition to create a new Marine Lake Events Centre was the central theme of last year’s Southport Town Deal bid, which secured a total of £38.5million to fund regeneration projects in the town. A total of £33.3million of this will go towards the new MLEC. 

The centre is forecast to attract 515,000 additional visitors to the waterfront every year. It will also create 288 jobs, and boost Southport’s hotel and hospitality sector with nearly 60,000 overnight stays from conferences and events.

The theatre would include 1,200 seats and has been designed to accommodate a wide range of staged events, including conferences, meetings, theatrical shows, comedy, musical entertainment, bands, large orchestras etc. 

The Exhibition Hall has a 1,500 m2 floorspace and a capacity for up to 2,400 people. The hall has been designed to be divisible into three separate smaller halls and is capable of accommodating a wide range of events, including exhibitions, plenary sessions for conferences, banquets, entertainment events. 

An artist's impression of the new Marine lake Events Centre in Southport

An artist’s impression of the new Marine lake Events Centre in Southport

In addition, there are several seminar rooms, break-out spaces and meeting rooms overlooking the Marine Lake. 

A full-service restaurant would extend up to 345 m2 at the Upper Level of the scheme overlooking the Marine Lake. The restaurant is capable of being directly accessed from the Lower Promenade and from the main events centre foyer. 

The architects behind the scheme, AFL Architects (AFL), have submitted a total of 115 documents supporting it.

They said in the application: “The proposed development is of critical importance to the future regeneration of Southport. 

“The proposed architecture of the scheme is modern but fully embedded and takes its reference from the Art Deco style and spirit of the Floral Hall and the wider town centre as a premier traditional seaside resort. 

“The public realm created by the scheme will deliver significant benefits to the wider area – the new public plaza will provide a fantastic secure space to watch the new proposed Water and Light Show on the Marine Lake whilst providing a high quality dwell space for visitors. 

“The proposal corresponds to the project brief by delivering a regionally prominent modern entertainment / events facility which is inclusive and market-leading. 

“The facility will re-establish Southport as an attractive destination for leisure and business visitors alike.” 

The project would involve: Demolition of existing buildings / structures on site; remediation works; foundation / piling works; and other associated engineering works to accommodate the development of a Theatre / Events Auditorium and Exhibition / Convention Centre with integral offices and production facilities, meeting rooms, ticket office / retail concessions, cafe and restaurant, and food & drink concessions; External Water & Light Show within Marine Lake; external concourse / public realm areas, amended vehicular / pedestrian access and circulation areas, amended vehicle parking layout, ecological mitigation and hard and soft landscaping.

A model of the proposed new Marine Lake Events Centre in Southport

A model of the proposed new Marine Lake Events Centre in Southport

AFL Architects said: “The Southport MLEC aims to create a unique leisure destination for Southport and the Sefton region. 

“It will deliver a high quality facility with new public realm supporting viewing areas for the wider scheme which includes the Water and Light Show in Southport Marine Lake. 

“Its location has a long history of being used for community recreation, being sited on the site of the previous Southport Theatre and Convention Centre (STCC), which included a 1,600 seat theatre auditorium, the Floral Hall Ballroom and the sub divisible Waterfront suite, both of which where capable of holding 700 delegates. 

“The proposed development aims to offer similar flexibility to the original venue with enhanced technical offering including a 1,500 capacity flexible Theatre auditorium, a 2,400 capacity flexible Exhibition Hall which can be subdivided into 3 smaller halls, along with other facilities such as meeting rooms, restaurant, café and VIP Lounge.

“The Event Centre will support a variety of different events including theatre shows, conference and exhibitions, standing music concerts, comedy shows and ballroom dancing. 

“The facilities also provide active frontage to the Promenade, proposed plaza and waterfront and therefore the Water and Light Show attraction. 

“The MLEC aims to become a high quality, distinctive entertainment, and business events venue capable of providing great experiences to audiences and users. 

An artist's impression of the new Marine Lake Events Centre in Southport

An artist’s impression of the new Marine Lake Events Centre in Southport

“It will be an anchor for the Waterfront redevelopment, retaining and attracting visitors and driving economic impact for Southport. While the proposals are contemporary, in design, it will reflect the pedestrianised pleasure garden character of the Marine Lake and deal sympathetically with its historical context.

“The Centre aims to create a vibrant location of which both Sefton and Southport can be proud.”

The Key Aims are: 

  • Re-establish the the site as a leading business, entertainment and events venue 
  • To be a transformational regeneration project for the Waterfront, Southport and the City Region that facilitates the ‘Levelling Up’ agenda 
  • To increase the overall economic impact of the development site 
  • To improve the financial operating position of the MLEC and to reduce any revenue subsidy requirements 
  • To reduce carbon footprint 

AFL Architects said: “The proposed MLEC scheme is a town centre regeneration project for Southport that will help underpin the visitor economy and provide growth opportunities for the town, the whole of Sefton borough and the wider Liverpool City Region.

“In 2021, Southport Town Deal successfully secured £38.5 million funding. The project also secured £2.3 million funding from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, subject to a successful planning application. Following confirmation of the funding, Sefton appointed an expert team, including AFL and specialist venue and entertainment consultancy IPW to ensure that the proposals for the MLEC could deliver the required facilities. 

“The existing STCC facility is presently vacant having closed in March 2020 at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The closure was however the culmination of a period of decline for the facility as a subregional leisure and business events attraction given a series of physical, operational and economic issues.” 

Do you have a story for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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