These stunning images reveal how a multi-million pound investment will transform the Waterfront area of Southport and create a new destination to rival the best in Europe.
The redevelopment alongside the town’s Marine Lake will complement the planned construction of a new Lakeside performance, events and leisure complex that would sit alongside it.
A world class light and water show in the lake would further add to the area’s wow factor.
The huge success of the Southport Town Deal has given our spectacular coastal seaside resort a great opportunity to launch “a race to the top”.
Robert Agsteribbe, a Partner at BIP, says the £38.5million government funding presents Southport with the chance to transform our town and attract millions of new visitors every year.
He is looking forward to working alongside Sefton Council and other partners to realise an exciting redevelopment of the Waterfront area of Southport.
They’re particularly keen to see a future vision for Southport which makes the most of the Marine Lake – one of the North West’s greatest assets – which has been greatly under-utilised in recent years.
Robert praised the work done by Sefton Council alongside their consultants IPW, experts in venues and facilities, and global architects HOK, in creating spectacular designs for a proposed new Lakeside performance, events and leisure complex for Southport as part of the Town Deal submission to the Government.
The new ‘Lakeside’ development will complement the substantial investment which has been made at Bliss Hotel in recent years and knit together beautifully with the exciting plans for the BIP site.
Other schemes being planned through the Southport Town Deal include creating a world class light and water show in the Marine Lake. Further along the edge of the lake, Town Deal funding is due to support infrastructure work to allow Southport Pleasureland to grow into an indoor, all year attraction.
Southport Cove meanwhile is keen to open a world class surf resort on the Princes Park site, also next to Marine Lake.
This is a good time to rebuild. The Covid pandemic saw the doors close at the Southport Theatre & Convention Centre in March last year while Genting Casino announced its plan to vacate its Southport premises in February this year.
The situation however provides an excellent opportunity to take a fresh look at the Waterfront site and make the most of one of Southport’s greatest assets – the Marine Lake.
Robert said: “The waters of the Marine Lake have always been a superb draw for people. Where else do you have an attraction like this?
“For a scheme of this magnitude and importance we’re in discussion with a number of potential development partners and we’ve been particularly impressed with the guys at Genr8 who have a fantastic track record of leading major regeneration development schemes in the UK. They really get the opportunity and have total belief in the future for Southport.
“With their team we’ve been looking at the site in detail and have come up with an outstanding scheme which demolishes the corner building where Genting was and replace it with a mixed use ‘European Plaza’ which connects to, and complements, the new ‘Lakeside Events Centre’ conceived by Sefton’s team; all of which, through clever public realm design, connects the site and the town to the lake and the views over the coastline. An aspect that the town has been denied for way too long.”
Mike Smith from Genr8 said: “The importance of the work done by Sefton Council in securing the Towns Fund support cannot be underestimated and the opportunity it presents in transforming the waterfront and beyond is huge.
“We have been tremendously impressed with the vision demonstrated by both Sefton Council and Robert and his colleagues at Bliss and we are incredibly excited at the prospect of working alongside them both to help bring forward a robust delivery strategy.
“A comprehensive and transformational approach will not just create a new waterfront destination but be a catalyst for the wider regeneration of the whole town.
“The possibilities in terms of scale are endless and we really believe Southport can become a major leisure destination to stand alongside the best that Europe has to offer.”
Robert said: ‘“Last year we created Room at Bliss Hotel, our new all day public space (which will also host functions and events) which has stunning 180 degree views over Marine Lake and the coast. I think it’s the finest space on the coast.
“What we have the opportunity to do now is to talk about how all of the area around the lake will fit together to create something truly special with Regional, National and International significance and appeal.
“Our new scheme provides loads of opportunities for new operators, whether it’s hotel, shared office space, leisure, gym, residential, office, live/work, bespoke artisan retail etc.
“It’s very important there’s a holistic view of the entire Waterfront development.
“HOK and IPW have done a fantastic job creating the new performance, events and leisure buildings which will complement what we are creating at Bliss.
“We all have a shared vision of how the two halves of this Waterfront site can really fit together.
“What a superb achievement it was for the Southport Town Deal board to be able to secure that funding.”
The first part of the £38.5million Town Deal investment is already paying great dividends.
£100,000 has gone towards supporting the Southport BID project to create “a boulevard of light” along the historic mile-long Lord Street boulevard, to give a much-needed boost to the town’s evening economy. Local company IllumiDex UK Ltd has installed 300,000 lights to create a real talking point.
A further £900,000 has been utilised to support Sefton Council’s £1.4million transformation of Southport Market into a new food, drink and events hub, which is due within the next few weeks.
Sefton Council officers and the Southport Town Deal board are now drawing up Business Cases to ensure that schemes such as the new theatre, the light show on the lake, infrastructure support for Southport Pleasureland, new business incubator and co-working office space and public realm improvements can also become a reality.
BIP Partners Daniel Broch and Robert Agsteribbe saw huge potential in the Waterfront site, and in Southport, when they completed their acquisition of the former Ramada Plaza Hotel in December 2016. In July 2017, they then acquired the 250-year head lease for the entire Southport Waterfront development from Promenade Estates.
Looking over the Marine Lake and coast beyond, the Waterfront comprises the 133 bed 4-star hotel, together with the former Genting Casino building, a Hungry Horse operated by Greene King, a plaza area and a number of vacant units.
Situated in a famous seaside resort within an hour’s drive of Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and other North West centres, there is huge scope to attract visitors. Over 9.1million people visited Southport in 2019, the last year before the Covid pandemic.
There is a recognition that Southport has suffered some decline in previous years, something that Daniel , Robert and other investors locally are keen to address.
Robert said: “When we first invested in Southport five years ago it felt as though there was a real ‘race to the bottom’ taking place, and we thought that it doesn’t have to be this way.
“Southport needs to have a relevant offer for the contemporary market place. You need to give them something which provides them with a positive experience in Southport.
“It is no longer a race down. It is a progression up, with huge pride in this town and what it has to offer.
“When Sefton finishes the new events and performance buildings, and if we can realise the other schemes within the Southport Town Deal, then the potential trajectory for Southport is massive.
“It is all do-able and it is hugely exciting.”
Bliss Hotel has been open to NHS and key workers only over the past few weeks. They are delighted to be able to reopen fully this week. The response has been incredibly positive.
Bliss Hotel Sales Manager James Wood said: “All the events we are putting together, all the social events, such as weddings, are doing really well.
“We have a PGA Tour coming to Southport this year, and we will be hosting the players. The Back To Love Weekender is coming to Bliss Hotel on 3rd to 5th September.
“BMW is coming on 10th July. Mini UK is coming too, they will be showcasing their Mini Electric here. They needed somewhere that was funky, with an easy vibe.
“We couldn’t have been able to secure business and events like that without The Room, our new events space which overlooks Marine Lake.
“There hasn’t really been that connection between the hotel and the water previously but with Room, our Roof Garden and our new penthouses, we can offer that now.
“For people in Liverpool, when they were looking for somewhere to go for a great night out, for
an anniversary, somewhere with a real feelgood experience, there wasn’t much choice in Southport, so they stayed somewhere in the city. Now they are coming here instead.”