What is the HAZ?
Blackpool’s Heritage Action Zone project is a partnership between Blackpool Council and Historic England.
The project is aimed at using Blackpool’s heritage as a catalyst for bringing new and diverse uses to the town centre and giving a new relevance for both local communities and visitors alike.
There are two different areas of focus in the project.
The first is centred on historic buildings and how heritage can be used to improve the look and feel of the high street by restoring and enhancing historic buildings. This element builds on recent improvements in Topping Street, Edward Street and Deansgate in restoring buildings and their commercial frontages. The biggest focus of this part of the scheme is the Church Street Frontage of the Winter Gardens, where work to restore the Victorian commercial frontages to Empress Buildings has already begun.
Other projects include the conversion of an Art Deco building on Topping Street to provide a community creative hub and converting part of the former Black’s building on Edward Street into live/work units where local artists and creatives can rent studio and retail space with living accommodation above.
The second area is the implementation of a cultural programme and this is specifically to bring new activity to the high street and to engage local communities in creative activity. This programme is already working on delivering a regular market for local creatives and artists and setting up taster workshops for local people to try out different creative activities.
Future work will look at performance, film and creative workshops as well as talks and tours focused on heritage and the past, present and future of Blackpool’s town centre.
Blackpool’s High Street Heritage Action Zone is focused on a section of Church Street containing impressive groups of mid to late 19th Century public and commercial buildings and a wealth of incredibly diverse heritage assets some of which are of national and regional significance. The Grand Theatre and the Blackpool Winter Gardens and the areas around them form the main focus of this project. It also includes Cedar Square and parts of Edward Street, Topping Street and Deansgate.
The historic built environment in Blackpool and in the identified HAZ area has been recognised as having significant economic benefits not just in terms of retail or visitor economy but through the potential to impact on the quality of life for local residents and the quality of experience for our visitors. The quality of the historic built environment within the proposed Blackpool HAZ promotes ‘civic pride’ acting as a reminder of how Blackpool has evolved historically.
Blackpool is fortunate that it does not contain a large number of buildings that are considered ‘to be at risk’ due to their poor condition. However the Grade II* Winter Gardens does fall into that category. The project’s aim is to showcase the cultural activities within both of these venues and to bring those activities out into the public realm, increasing footfall via through engaging with and inspiring members of local communities and visitors to Blackpool. These groups are essential in supporting the town’s built heritage, sustaining the character of places they visit through usage and per capita spend.
Innovative developments will help to conserve and enhance these key heritage assets within the town centre and introduce new and innovative development which supports the Blackpool Town Centre strategy in delivering a strengthened cultural, leisure and business destination for residents and visitors.
Our Vision is “Blackpool Town Centre HAZ area is at the heart of Britain’s favourite resort, offering a distinctive all year-round green destination, the go to place for culture and heritage and community activities, working alongside quality retail and leisure where business is thriving. An attractive place to live and work, where a buzzing community atmosphere pervades and all ages gather and interact creating a strong sense of belonging and civic pride”.