Urban Splash scoops bid for £80m ‘classic resort’
Mar 21 2008 by Ben Schofield, Liverpool Daily Post
AN £80m transformation of Southport’s waterfront will be spearheaded by developers Urban Splash, it was revealed last night.
Sefton Council’s cabinet named the company as their choice to build on the town’s former Pleasureland site.
The 34-acre plot – to be known as Southport Marine Park – could include a landmark atrium hous-ing a winter garden, an expanded marine lake, outdoor heated swimming pool and places to stay.
The Liverpool-based company say the development will cost £80m and they hope to draw up the first plans within four months.
The award-winning developer is credited with contributing to the success of regeneration efforts in Manchester and Liverpool.
Its managing director Bill Maynard said he was using Cornwall’s Eden Project as some inspiration for the plans.
He added that he wanted the project to be a “reinvention of the seaside resort”.
“It will be an inspirational space with lots of uses. It’s got the potential to be something really glorious.”
The atrium could be either a glass or wooden-framed structure.
Inside, the winter garden would add to Southport’s rich horticultural traditions, Mr Maynard said.
He hopes to expand and enhance the marine lake and encourage more water-based activities such as boating and yachting.
He said: “The marine lake is a fabulous resource for the resort that needs more TLC to bring it to its full potential.
“We were really taken with the council’s aspiration of regenerating Southport as a ‘classic resort’ and I think that’s why they liked our ideas.”
Highlighting one of the eco-friendly aspects of the proposals, Mr Maynard said he was keen to explore using a combination lighting and heating system.
The excess water produced in such a system could be used to fill a lido-style outdoor pool.
“One of the big things that we are keen on is the great outdoors issue,” he said. “It going to be about the simple pleasures: being by water, going to a nice restaurant, going to a nice hotel.”
There could be at least two hotels on the site offering traditional accommodation alongside serviced apartments and part houses to let.
The park will take between five and six years to complete.
Cllr Lord Ronnie Fearn, Sefton’s cabinet member for leisure and tourism, sat on the panel which chose Urban Splash.
He said he hopes visitors will stay for “one, two or three days for holidays”.
“It brings the eyes of the country on us, and I would like to say the world.
“We have gone with the classic resort, which is now almost achieved – we’re hoping to launch it at the Open Golf Championship.
“Urban Splash were keen to work with the committee to bring a quality, eco-friendly development,” he added.
Urban Splash beat rival bids from St Modwen Properties and Preston-based Maple Grove Developments.
Mr Maynard said he was committed to using a local workforce to deliver the plans and will launch a major public consultation later this year.
Pleasureland closed in September, 2006, after 93 years in the town.
Mr Maynard said his designs reflected the fact that leisure tastes were changing.
“The fact that Pleasureland closed down after struggling for years revealed it has changed since the 50s and 60s. Where Sefton is absolutely right, is to talk about the ‘classic resort’.”
Urban Splash will now launch an international design competition to drum up ideas for what the park will look like.
Tony Corfield, Sefton’s head of tourism, said: “We are delighted to have an opportunity to work with Urban Splash who have an international reputation for delivering the levels of design and quality we are determined to achieve.
“During their impressive submissions, Urban Splash have vowed to create a distinctive new attraction featuring a wide range of activities.
“These are very exciting times for Southport – and the Marine Park development will provide a fantastic opportunity to provide another major boost which will last for generations to come.”