25 January 2024

Invitation to give your views on proposed plans for Central Library and Grundy Art Gallery

Blackpool Council’s Cultural Services is proposing the creation of a Culture Hub in Claremont ward, with Blackpool Central Library and Grundy Art Gallery at the heart of the culture-led regeneration.

Artist impression on Grundy Art Gallery extension - front of building
Artist impression on Grundy Art Gallery extension
String richText

Local residents and businesses are invited to attend a public information session to find out more about this exciting project and share their views.

Two public information events will be taking place at Blackpool Central Library on Thursday 8 February 2024, with presentations at 3pm and 6pm.

Blackpool Council has commissioned Ellis Williams architects to develop concept designs and seek planning approval for the proposed changes. These include an extensive refurbishment to Central Library and a new extension for The Grundy.

Funding is in place for the initial development plans from UK Shared Prosperity Fund and Blackpool Council. Once the full scheme is drawn up and planning permission is approved, Blackpool Council will be able to apply to various funding streams for the funding to enable the works to be carried out.

The project will create reimagined and additional space to provide a range of cultural activities, events and exhibitions. It will make the building complex more accessible and comfortable for different people’s needs when visiting and people will be able to move between the library and the gallery through an internal connecting link.

Overall the refurbishment of both buildings and a major new extension to the Grundy aim to be a major catalyst in transforming Queen Street into a vibrant and thriving part of Blackpool’s town centre.

The key changes for Central Library are a redesigned Showtown History Centre on the upper floor where the public can access the varied heritage collections; together with flexible multi-use space downstairs for public talks, workshops, events, and seminars, with kitchen and changing room facilities. The option of a café, permanent or pop-up, is also being considered.

The key changes for the Grundy Art Gallery are the provision of a major new gallery space to facilitate a wider range of exhibitions of national and international status, new spaces for school and community groups to take part in workshops, and a shop and toilet/cloakroom facilities.

Concept designs also include proposed enhancements to Queen Street and Abingdon Street, including public realm improvements, to enable a culture-led identity to be formed in the area.

The scheme aligns with the emerging ‘Be Who You Want To Be’ action plan for Claremont, and a desire to improve and enhance existing cultural facilities in the area.

It is estimated the project would bring 59,000 additional visitors to the site per year by increasing and diversifying the engagement in culture, learning, creativity and heritage of Blackpool residents and raising the contemporary cultural profile of Blackpool as a destination.

Cllr Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council, Cabinet Member for Tourism, Arts and Culture and ward councillor for Claremont said:

Quote quote
“Blackpool Central Library and Grundy Art Gallery are an important part of Blackpool’s cultural life and I’m delighted to see proposals being brought forward to enhance the cultural offer within the town. “Whilst we do not yet have full funding for this project, recent success in applying for funding has shown us that we need to be ready to go with our plans when funding does become available to apply for. This is why we are asking people their thoughts and views now. “The Grundy and Central Library really are hidden gems in Blackpool and have so much potential. It is vital that we develop them and make them as accessible to as many people as possible to provide even more opportunities and services for local residents and tourists. “This isn’t just about enhancing the Grundy and the library though, it’s about building on the ‘Be Who You Want To Be’ project and other up-and-coming cultural schemes to really enhance and improve what Blackpool already has and ensure the offer is for everyone across the whole town. “If we manage to find further funding, the scheme would be a really exciting step in boosting the profile of Blackpool as a culturally appealing place to live and work. “Please do come and have a look at the plans and let us know what you think.”
String richText

Dominic Williams, Director at Ellis Williams’ architects said:

Quote quote
“We are delighted to be working on this fabulous regeneration project for Blackpool. We are aware of the deep connection that both the Grundy Gallery and the Library building holds for many of the community and to that end, we intend that the new extension alongside the refurbished buildings, will celebrate Blackpool’s cultural heritage whilst creating an inviting and accessible building for all to use.”
String richText

The Blackpool Central Library and Grundy Art Gallery extension feasibility project has received £178,500 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. 

Following the events, the proposals will be submitted to Blackpool Council’s planning department for consideration.

The proposed scheme is estimated to cost £9.8 million and funding opportunities will be sought.

For those unable to attend the public information event a survey will be available to give your views on the scheme from Thursday 8 February.