An artist's impression of the proposed waterside events centre in Southport, which is proposed as part of Southport Town Deal

Sefton Council is seeking £7.5million in funding as the new Marine Lake Events Centre takes a step closer to being built. 

Sefton Executive Director Place Stephen Watson said that “given the importance of the project to the town’s economy, there remains a desire to keep the project moving at pace”. 

The new events, theatre and conference centre for Southport is estimated to attract 455,000 day visitors over a year, bringing in £18.4million to the local economy and boosting shops, hotels, restaurants and other local businesses. 

Creating a new events centre is the central ambition which emerged from the Southport Town Deal process, with the Government announcing a total of £38.5million funding for our resort. 

The total project is estimated to cost £75million with £33.3million earmarked by the Town Deal board for a new events centre and a light show in the Marine Lake nearby. The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has pledged a further £20million. 

Last month the local authority announced that the current Southport Theatre & Convention Centre building is not fit for purpose to reopen in the short term, due to the huge £550,00 repair and maintenance bill needed to make it operational again. 

Officers also don’t believe they would be able to find an operator willing to run the facility in the immediate future due to the uncertainty over the Covid pandemic. 

Next Thursday (29th July), Council Cabinet members will be asked to approve the submission of a pre-development funding bid of up to £2.5million to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, along with a capital funding bid submission to Arts Council England of up to £5million. The report also requests approval to procure a range of required consultancy services for the proposed new Southport Marine Lake Events Centre, in order to progress the design, business case and operating model.

Sefton Council Executive Director Place Stephen Watson, in his report, said: “To enable progression of the project at pace, there is now an opportunity to secure up to £2.5million from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as a contribution to the pre-development works.

“Moreover, Arts Council England has recently announced a Capital funding scheme, with the proposed Marine Lake Events Centre being eligible.

“Furthermore, in order to complete the final business case, several procurements are required such as the delivery team and full design services. This will allow the project to progress on the necessary timetable to draw down Town Deal funding in March 2022, and to submit the final business case to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as part of the capital contribution of up to £20million. 

Creating a new waterside centre for events, shows and conferences was one of the proposals in Southport Town Deal

Creating a new waterside centre for events, shows and conferences was one of the proposals in Southport Town Deal

“The total investment for the project, which includes the water and light show in Marine Lake, is circa £75million. 

“A total of £33.3million from the Town Deal and up to £20million from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is agreed in principle, and at the time of this report engagement is ongoing with potential funding partners and investors for any balance required. 

“Options and recommendations will be brought to Cabinet as part of the final business case in early 2022.”

The new Events Centre formed part of the Southport Town Deal consultation.

This overall consultation, which was carried out by Stand Up For Southport, Turleys and DS Emotion, resulted in over 7,000 responses with regards to the overall Town Deal. Separate consultation also took place with under 16s in relation to The Events Centre and future uses, with more than 1,000 respondents.

Stephen Watson said: “Close working relationships continue with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority on the Southport Town Deal projects.

“This includes a commitment of up to £20million of capital funding to support the delivery of the proposed Marine Lake Events Centre. 

“Discussions have continued in respect of the potential access to pre-development funding, earlier than anticipated, for progression of the project.

“The council remains keen to progress the project at pace, recognising the impact of the closure of Southport Theatre and Convention Centre (STCC) on the town’s economy, as well as the importance of the project to economic recovery and the significant impact and benefit that the new Events Centre will have on the local and regional economy.

“It is therefore keen to pursue this potential predevelopment funding bid opportunity.

The proposed design of the new Marine Lake Events Centre in Southport

The proposed design of the new Marine Lake Events Centre in Southport

“Given the importance of the project to the town’s economy, and given the timescales envisaged by the Town Deal process, there remains a desire to keep the project moving at pace during the current financial year. However, this is dependent on pre-development funding for progression of the design and business case in advance of the release of the Town Deal funding itself.”

Subject to approval of the pre-development funding above, a range of design and specialist services to progress the design development and prepare the submission of a planning application for the new Marine Lake Events Centre are required.

A review of professional services to be commissioned has been carried out recommending the procurement of five lots for the core design team as follows:

  1. Architect (Lead Designer) / Landscape Architect
  2. Structural / Civil Engineering
  3. Mechanical, Electrical and Public Health (MEPH) Services Engineering
  4. Town Planning Consultant / Heritage Consultant
  5. Transport / Highways Consultant.

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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