Kier has been named preferred bidder to build a £73m events centre in a seaside town near Liverpool.
The project forms part of Sefton Council’s “town deal” with central government and will see the new centre replace the former Southport Theatre.
The Marine Lakes Event Centre (MLEC) will include a new 1,200-capacity theatre alongside a 1,500 square metres conference and exhibition space capable of hosting up to 3,000 delegates.
The MLEC will also include a light and water show installation. Sefton Council received £37.5m from the government to help fund a range of projects that aim to transform Southport’s seafront. It is one of the largest town deals agreed with the government so far.
Kier has entered into a pre-construction services agreement with Sefton Council, with a full contract expected to be awarded later this year.
As part of the MLEC project Kier and other partners have also signed up to a special social-value plan that will see them give back to communities across Sefton.
Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (CA) recently approved £17.7m in funding for the new MLEC. This was on top of £2.3m the CA had already committed to the pre-development work.
A planning application for the project has been submitted and is expected to be considered by the council’s planning committee in the coming months. When completed, the scheme is expected to create 230 jobs, with an additional 160 construction jobs.
Councillor Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and skills, said: “By awarding preferred status to Kier we are putting the physical creation of the venue into the hands of a proven contractor with a strong track record.
“The interest of the UK’s leading construction firms in the project, and the standing of the successful bidder, reaffirms the scale of ambition for the future of Southport that this transformational project demonstrates.
“The MLEC, together with the Light Fantastic, is forecast to attract more than half a million additional visitors to Southport year-on-year and generate an annual £18m for the local economy, and I am delighted that Sefton Council is once again leading the way in exciting projects like this.”
Atkinson added: “The end goal is a fully flexible, scalable cultural space capable of staging concerts, stand-up comedy, family shows, musical theatre, conferences and exhibitions that is the envy of other towns and cities.
“Kier shares in the ambitions of Sefton Council and the Southport Town Deal in making MLEC a soaring success.”