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Stunning images of Marine Lake Events centre revealed as consultation launches

Sefton Council is set to launch its public consultation on much anticipated plans for the Southport Marine Lake Events Centre and accompanying Water and Light Show.

The community will shortly be invited to share their views on exciting plans for a new, state-of-the-art theatre and entertainment space and a flexible conference and business events venue and water and light show attraction, which will greatly boost the town’s economic and tourism sectors.

Consultation events are being held at Southport Market in the coming weeks and a live webinar will take place to provide more information on the plans, which will be revealed when the consultation begins on Thursday 26th May when feedback will be invited via an online survey at – with the consultation running until 10th June.

The MLEC will replace the former Southport Theatre and Convention Centre which closed its doors in 2020. The new development will provide first class theatre space, a conference and exhibition centre able to accommodate a range of events, and café and signature restaurant, providing facilities for both visitors and the community alike.

The plans also include a new Water and Light show installation on the Marine Lake. Designed to set Southport apart from other seaside towns, the show will attract thousands of additional visitors to the town each year.

The project forms part of the Southport Town Deal which secured £37.5 million funding in 2021 and follows the success of Southport Market, which opened its doors last year. The project has also secured £2.3 million funding from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

Consultation events are being held at Southport Market on Friday 27th May between 11am and 6pm, and Saturday 28th May between 11am and 3pm.

A live webinar will also be held at 6pm on Thursday 26th May. You can register to attend the webinar in advance at The consultation webpage will be updated on the 26th May with further details of the plans and an online feedback form.

Cllr Ian Maher , leader of Sefton Council, said: “The Marine Lake Events Centre is the latest fantastic opportunity for us to build on our successful bid for Town Deal funding.

“This project directly compliments the ongoing and continued investment Sefton Council makes toward improving the future of the town for our amazing communities and visitors.

“I would encourage everyone to join in with the upcoming consultation events, either online or in person, to find out more.

“We are looking forward to hearing feedback before a planning application is submitted.”

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Southport holds a special place in the hearts of so many people in our city region and beyond as being a family-favourite destination for days out and holidays alike. The town has been entertaining generations of visitors for as long as it has existed.

“We want to build on that legacy and make sure that Southport can continue to thrive and attract visitors for many more years to come, giving a massive boost to local businesses and creating good quality, secure jobs. We are working with Sefton Council to drive the town’s revival and start a new chapter in its story. I for one cannot wait to see what the future has in store.”

A public telephone line has also been set up via 0808 168 8296. This is a freephone consultation hotline where people can call to speak to a member of the project team and ask any questions, as well as share any feedback.

Sefton businesses to receive rate relief from Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund

Businesses across Sefton will be able to apply for the latest round of the Government’s COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF).

CARF is a discretionary award that will be available to support businesses which have not received business rates-related support during the last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sefton Council has been allocated £4,447,663 for the CARF scheme, which will only apply to the 2021/22 rating year. The value of relief granted to each eligible business that applies will only be determined once the total number of eligible applications have been received and prioritised. 

Businesses adversely affected by the pandemic are encouraged to apply for the scheme, which aims to support those who have been unable to adapt to the impact caused by Covid-19.

It is intended that the relief scheme will provide support to businesses whose main trading address is within Sefton and, in turn, protect local jobs.

A spokesperson for Sefton Council said: “We have been allocated £4,447,663 for this round of Government funding to support business across Sefton that have not received any previous rate relief.

“We encourage all eligible businesses across the Borough to apply when the four-week application window opens this summer.”

Details of the scheme will be posted on the Councils website at

Marine Lake Events Centre plans to take major step forward this Summer

Exciting plans for a state-of-the-art Marine Lake Events Centre in Southport are set to take another big step forward this summer, as the project team prepares for public consultation.

It was announced earlier this year that Sefton Council has appointed an experienced team, including leading architecture firm AFL Architects, to work on plans that will provide Southport with a first class events space and a new visitor attraction that will animate the Marine Lake. 

The project has been named following feedback from local school children during the Town Deal consultation in 2020. The plans will provide a theatre space, conference and exhibition centre able to accommodate a range of events, and café/restaurant on the site of the existing Southport Theatre and Conference Centre.  A water and light show is proposed to be installed on the Marine Lake.

The project will bring thousands of visitors to the town each year and provide a boost to the local economy.

The Marine Lake Events Centre and Marine Lake water and light show forms part of the Southport Town Deal which secured £37.5 million funding in 2021. The project has also secured further support from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. 

Work on the Marine Lake Events Centre follows the success of Southport Market, which opened its doors last year and has helped to kickstart regeneration of the Market Quarter. The council has also recently consulted on plans to improve access to the eastern side of Southport and public realm improvements for the town centre.

The Marine Lake Events Centre team will start conversations with stakeholders over the next few weeks with public consultation planned to take place in May. A planning application is expected to be submitted in early summer 2022.

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said: “We are really excited that the project is starting to take shape. During the consultation on the Town Deal in 2020, the need for investment in the current theatre was something lots of people wanted to see and the “big idea” to animate the Marine Lake was widely welcomed. 

“There are a number of aspects of the project that need careful consideration, so we have appointed an expert team to start having conversations and to help design and deliver this important project for Southport.

“We plan to undertake a wider public consultation on the plans in May, providing an opportunity for everyone to see and comment on the plans before a planning application is submitted.”


Sefton Council announces ground-breaking ‘street food’ regeneration pilot project for Bootle Canalside & Strand

Concept design illustrating what the future re-purposed Strand could look and feel like.Sefton Council is announcing an exciting and ground-breaking ‘Street Food’ regeneration pilot project.

Initially, the initiative will focus on the area around the Canalside and Bootle Strand to complement existing regeneration and investment plans, but it will also have the potential to expand.

As well as meaning new street food traders in the area, the project will provide an education, training, skills development and employment pathway and new business start-up mentoring and support within the hospitality and leisure sector for the local community.

It will also help to revitalise the Canalside and The Strand Shopping Centre further by providing new catering facilities, alongside a complementary events programme designed to encourage more people into Bootle town centre.

The scheme will be delivered in partnership with the Government’s Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Nationwide Caterers Association, Hugh Baird College and Everton in the Community, and based initially in Bootle.

Cllr Ian Maher, Labour Leader of Sefton Council, said “This is a unique opportunity for our residents to get trained in making and selling street food, and a potential route to a career in the hospitality and leisure sector. We are working with partners to develop a curriculum which provides both catering and business start-up training and opportunities to hone these skills in a real life setting within the Strand and on the Canalside. We look forward to providing more details in due course and inviting applications to our first cohort”

Mark Laurie from Nationwide Caterers Association said: “We hope this is the beginning of new and exciting food culture across Sefton enabling local people to enjoy great affordable food in a new space, set up and run their own businesses or find employment. The Canalside venue and strand street food space are the perfect locations and additions to the area to support Sefton council’s ambition to develop a unique destination, that can be enjoyed by all and adds value to the community; a hub for local people and visitors to meet, eat and have fun. Sefton Council have shown great ambition and dedication in pushing to take on this pilot project for Bootle and we look forward to working with the community and all stakeholders on this making this initiative a huge success”

John Billington, Director of Facilities and Technical Services at Hugh Baird College, said: “This street food project offers an exciting opportunity for our catering students to expand their skill set and gain further experience of operating in a commercial setting, enriching the curriculum and whilst also supporting town centre regeneration. We are very grateful for the strong relationship with the council, enabling partnership working on education and skills development of this nature, to the betterment of Bootle’s community and economy”.

Further details will be announced soon, including how existing catering students and the wider community can access this opportunity, and when the project will be launched.

Strand shopping centre to be re-imagined as the beating heart of Bootle in new vision set out by Council.

Concept design illustrating what the future re-purposed Strand could look and feel like.Sefton Council has reaffirmed its commitment to the Strand shopping centre, a cornerstone of the local community, which remains at the heart of plans to regenerate the hard hit town.


Working in partnership with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, which has invested £500,000 from its Mayoral Towns Fund and £1.8m strategic investment funding into the Bootle Canalside project, leading real estate company Avison Young and place shaping consultants K2 Architects, the Council has developed a bold vision for the future of Bootle with additional green public spaces, and an exciting and more diverse offer from the Strand and the adjoining Canalside.

This would include diversification of the centre to include new food and drink offers; leisure and entertainment; culture and education; as well as new integrated health and social care facilities. Bringing all of this together in one place would improve access for the whole community and make the town more resilient and confident as well futureproofing the Strand for a rapidly changing high street.

Renewed confidence

The investment in the Strand would support the development of a thriving night-time economy in the town centre and help to promote Bootle as an ideal place for businesses to locate, creating jobs and renewed confidence in the town.

The strategy is to retain the best of the existing Strand shopping centre and unlock its original potential by opening elements of the centre to create more public spaces and to work with the original buildings and structures, rather than large scale demolition and redevelopment.  This  will have a fraction of the environmental impact.

This vision of a diverse and resilient town centre, repurposed for the community, is a bold and ambitious one, but one that local leaders are confident can be delivered alongside partners including Hugh Baird College, local health providers, the Canals and Rivers Trust, local businesses and the community and voluntary sector.

New bid

The Council intends to submit a new bid to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) this summer for support with its plans for the Strand and Bootle town centre.  The town is one of the areas hardest hit in recent times and has not yet had support from the Government for regeneration and development. The Council’s vision for a thriving town centre that works for all people is the archetypal Levelling Up project, focused on community, resilience and sustainability and should be supported in the next round of funding.

Sefton Council will be launching a market testing exercise in Spring/Summer 2022, after which more detailed proposals will be developed, in consultation with local people, and progressed through the planning process.

The Council has already started engaging with the local community as part of the wider Bootle Area Action Plan process with further opportunities to contribute to that planned for later this year.

The Council intends to work collaboratively with local leaders and the community on the Strand programme and will commence dedicated engagement soon.

Proudly committed

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council said: “We are proudly and passionately committed to the regeneration of Bootle which has been hit hard by the pandemic and has too often been overlooked.

“The Strand shopping centre is the beating heart of Bootle and the loyalty of the community to this cornerstone of the high street is immense.

“Our plans to offer a diverse range of services within the Strand and transform the surrounding areas would not be possible without Council ownership of the shopping centre and the loyalty of the people who go there.

“Our vision for Bootle aims to create a thriving town centre that works for all people, brings investment and interest to an area filled with opportunities and builds a happier, healthier, more resilient population.”


Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, said: “This ambitious vision for the future of the Strand is proper levelling-up in action – and will make a real difference to people’s lives.

“The Strand has served as Bootle’s retail hub for decades – but it has seen better days. However, it is an area with so much more potential to unlock. The Combined Authority is working with Sefton Council to help make sure that Bootle’s future is as vibrant and exciting as possible.

“Reimagining what the town centre is for and expanding its offering will be the first step towards achieving this. The work we are doing will act as a catalyst for further regeneration and good growth – that strengthens the local economy, attracts more investment into the town, and improves the health, wellbeing and life chances of local residents.”

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