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Council pulls plug on Buttress’ £26m Blackpool Museum plans

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Blackpool Council has scrapped plans to build a £26 million museum celebrating the history of the resort designed by Manchester-based Buttress and exhibition experts Casson Mann

The authority admitted being £8 million short of the cash needed to build the scheme at the Grade II*-listed Pavilion Theatre and Horseshoe in the Winter Gardens and the financial risk was ‘too high’ to press on with the proposals.

However council leader Simon Blackburn said the museum, which was originally scheduled to complete next year, could still be built in some form in another location.

Blackburn said: ‘From day one with the project I’ve always said that if it didn’t add up financially then we wouldn’t go ahead with it.

’We won’t ever risk taxpayers’ money unless we are happy that we can recover that investment. While the business plan was properly thought through, the financial risk that the council would have to take to get the museum off the ground was simply too high.

‘Let me be clear, however. We aren’t packing up our buckets and spades and going home. We will continue to explore the possibility of building a museum in Blackpool to tell people about the important role that this resort has played and still does play as a favourite British holiday destination.’

Buttress landed the job – then priced at £21 million – in early 2015, seeing off a shortlist which included Heneghan Peng, Bisset Adams and Austin-Smith:Lord, which had performed the museum’s feasibility study.

The scheme attracted a £1.24 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant in 2014, which was spent on the feasibility study along with £1 million of Blackpool Council money.

The authority had also submitted an application for a £15 million grant from the fund.

Gary Shelly, design principal at Casson Mann said: ‘While our particular designs were specifically tailored to the Pavilion Theatre and surrounding ambulatory space, the ideas that they explore and the content that they contain could be used and re-envisioned in another location within Blackpool and we would love the chance to do this.’

Buttress declined to comment.

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