It is a small seaside town best known for its Victorian villas, pier and pleasure gardens. Now, however, Southport could be turned into a mini Manhattan – at least if one developer gets his way.
Plans have been drawn up for one of England’s tallest skyscrapers in the Merseyside resort.
The 48-storey Tower Of Hope has been proposed for the town centre by a local hotel group.
It would not only leave nearby Blackpool Tower in its shadow but would also have height bragging rights over any building in Liverpool, the noisy city next door.
And, according to Andrew Mikhail, boss of the Mikhail Hotel and Leisure Group behind the scheme, there is no reason that such a colossus couldn’t be the first of many.
“New York City started with a single brick once upon a time, as did London and every major city and town,” he said in a statement. “We need to cherish our past and we should be building our own future so other generations can bask in our glory rather than continuously referring back to our past.”
The development itself would stand 178m tall and form part of the regeneration of the Grade II-listed Grand Casino in the town’s Lord Street.
Inside would be 140 residential apartments, a five-star hotel, a restaurant, bar, gym, spa and car park.
Mr Mikhail, whose group already runs the town’s Bold Hotel and Lord Street Hotel, said the building – designed by the local firm Clayton Architecture – would “connect the past, present and future of Southport”, while also “further stimulating the local economy”.
Yet for anyone who fancies a penthouse apartment that, presumably, would take in views of both the Irish Sea to the west and Lancashire to the east, there may be some time to wait.
No plans have been submitted to the local Sefton Council and officials appear sceptical at the idea.
“We always welcome investors who share our passion and commitment to maintaining and improving our town centres,” a spokesperson for the authority said diplomatically. “Sefton Council will continue to work with investors and stakeholders for the ultimate long-term benefit of the resort.”
Not all residents have greeted the idea with enthusiasm, meanwhile. “It's a little early for April fools,” wrote one contributor to the Eye On Southport online forum. “I generally advocate development but this idea is ridiculous.”