Marine Lake Events Centre project approved by Planning Committee

27 April 2023 6min read

Southport’s new Marine Lake Events Centre has reached a milestone this week when it was approved by Sefton Council’s Planning Committee.

Planning approval for the brand-new, state-of-the-art, £73 million, Marine Lake Events Centre gives the green light for construction works to start on site, this summer.

Based on the site of the former Southport Theatre, the Marine Lake Events Centre will be a flexible events space. It is expected to bring more than half a million new visitors to Southport each year and generate an annual £18 million boost for the local economy. This will, in turn lead to a significant number of job opportunities.


Sefton Council’s Planning Department worked closely with the project’s architects and specialists during the pre planning phase to make sure the eventual application was of the best quality possible.

The Marine Lake Events Centre is one of the schemes being developed as a result of the successful bid for £37.5m of Town Deal funding for Southport. A significant proportion of this funding is for Centre, as well as for the Light Fantastic, a water, light and sound show in the neighbouring Marine Lake.

Plans for the Marine Lake Events Centre have received overwhelming support during months of detailed community engagement. Community feedback gathered by Sefton Council and it partners was taken on board and integrated into the plans. Widespread stakeholder engagement has been ongoing since prior to the submission of the Town Deal bid itself.


Sefton Council has already started a series of preparatory works to ensure the project can get underway swiftly. This includes identifying ASM Global, the world’s leading venue management company and producer of live experiences as the site’s preferred operating partner.

And Kier Group, one of the UK’s leading construction firms, is the preferred design and build contractor to oversee the delivery of the new venue.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (CA) recently approved £17.7 million funding for the new Marine Lake Events Centre. This was on top of £2.3 million the Combined Authority had already committed to the pre-development work. Sefton Council will also provide funding of up to £19.7 million for the project.

Stephen Watson, Sefton Council’s Executive Director of Place, welcomed the news, saying: “The Marine Lake Events Centre, together with the Light Fantastic, is forecast to attract more than half a million additional visitors to Southport year on year and generating an annual £18 million for the local economy.

“It’s a hugely transformational project designed to boost the local economy, create new job opportunities and bring thousands of extra visitors to our beautiful Borough each year.

“This new Events Centre supports our strategic objectives of providing more reasons to visit, to stay, to stay longer, and to do so all year round – all of which support the creation of quality employment and career opportunities in the sector.

“From the moment we revealed this ambitious project the views and feedback of those living and working near to the site, as well as the wider community, were key to getting to this stage.

“We are delighted at the overwhelming support and excitement that the Marine Lake Events Centre has generated.”

Upon approving the application, the Committee noted that the Council’s Planning Department had played a key role in ensuring the application was fully compliant and considered all factors prior to being submitted.

Derek McKenzie, Sefton Council’s Chief Planning Officer, praised his team’s efforts to help guide the MLEC planning application.

Derek said: “This is one of many fantastic examples of collaborative and dedicated working between Sefton’s Planning Department, an applicant, and multiple internal and external consultees.

“This pre-application support has undoubtedly been a vital factor in ensuring the approval of this development. I am pleased that the Committee were able to recognise this and we look forward to seeing the Marine Lake Events Centre and Water & Lights Show in all its glory once completed.”

Further updates regarding site works will be announced in due course.

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