Casino dream moves forward

Although approval will not be in place before the Casino Advisory Panel’s visit to Blackpool on September 8, it is hoped outline permission will be secured for the multi-million pound plans by the end of October.

While some rival bidders already have permission for their casino schemes, Blackpool has always held back until now on getting formal approval.

But following overwhelmingly positive feedback to designs by American architects Gensler for the 23-acre Central Station site, the application will be officially lodged with the council next week.

It is expected to go before Blackpool Council’s development control committee by the end of September.

It must then get approval from Government Office North West because of the scale of the development. That could take a month, giving the whole process a 12-week timescale.

Doug Garrett, chief executive of ReBlackpool, said: „The plans are due to be submitted next week and we hope to have outline permission in place later in the year, before the Casino Advisory Panel makes its decision on where the licence will go.

„The response from the consultation has been very good indeed. People have been positive about what they have seen. The scheme is not the one for delivery. This is to demonstrate what the site can take and the commercial reality and vision for it. It fulfils its purpose on that precisely.“

More than 1,000 people visited a two-day exhibition of the plans held at the Central Station site in June.

The designs, for a £350m 30-storey hotel and casino, have even grabbed international headlines since they were unveiled, and have been compared with the famous Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai.

In the first round of consideration by the Casino Advisory Panel, Blackpool scored nine out of 10 in the category of „willingness to licence“.

Having planning approval will strengthen its bid still further in that area.

The panel – which will make its recommendation to the Government as to the preferred location for the UK‘s one-and-only super-casino licence by the end of this year – has so far placed the resort in third overall.

After the first round, Blackpool was behind London’s Millennium Dome and Glasgow.

However, those behind the resort’s dream of bringing Las Vegas-style gambling to the Fylde coast believe they have a strong enough bid to persuade the panel to back Blackpool.