£12m scheme is ‘dead in water’ says developer

The proposed Harrow Place scheme
The proposed Harrow Place scheme
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A developer today accused Blackpool planners of rejecting nearly £20m of potential investment which could have transformed a run-down area of the resort.

It comes after councillors told a consortium led by hotelier Tony Banks they could not approve a £12m apartment block because there was not enough car parking with the scheme.

Tony Banks

Tony Banks

Mr Banks has now formally withdrawn the planning application to demolish a derelict nursing home on the corner of Harrow Place and South Promenade and replace it with 113 apartments.

It is the second regeneration bid in a month to stall.

Last month councillors refused permission for a £7m scheme to replace the Kimberley, Waldorf and Henderson Hotels on Wimbourne Place, South Promenade.

The council’s own planning department had recommended both schemes for approval.

Nearly £20m of potential investment has been wiped off in the last 30 days

But the planning committee, made up of councillors, threw out the Wimbourne Place scheme for 99 apartments amid fears about the height of the building and the lack of parking.

This week they voted to defer the five-to-eight storey Harrow Place scheme.

Committee chairman Coun Lynn Williams said: “We appreciate the significance of redeveloping this area but we have to get it right.”

But Mr Banks warned: “Nearly £20m of potential investment has been wiped off in the last 30 days.”

South Promenade – one of the gateways to the resort – has come in for criticism due to the state of some buildings which are run down and have been set alight or vandalised.

Mr Banks, who owns a number of hotels, added: “The committee was saying there should be 215 parking spaces with the scheme but there is no way we can provide that so there is nowhere to go with it.

“We had put forward a parking scheme but they won’t accept it.

“We would have spent £300,000 creating another 80 spaces and we were going to purchase parking permits from the council, so they would have received revenue.

“Our original design was four-storeys, but the planning officers wanted something more bold which is why we put forward the final design.

“The planning department, who are professionals, recommended it for approval but what is the point if the committee is not on the same page?
“It means a £12m scheme has now been shelved and we have had to lay off the 12 people working on it. It is dead in the water.

“Other investors will not come to Blackpool with this attitude.

“I bring 80,000 visitors a year to my hotels and they have to come past this eyesore.

“The town is doomed.”

Seven letters of objection had been received plus a petition from the South Shore Action Group with 19 signatures over traffic and the height of the scheme.

Coun Williams said she was disappointed the application had been withdrawn.

She said: “The officers make recommendations but it is the decision of the committee and we cannot be steam-rollered into something that we don’t feel is right.

“That area does need investment.

“It is disappointing if the scheme is being withdrawn .

“We have 113 apartments proposed with only 19 parking spaces. But we could have looked at that and other options in terms of maybe dropping the height a little bit.

“We all felt the design was great and well thought out but it was too much.”

Gary Johnston, head of development control at Blackpool Council, said; “The members of the committee recognise it is important for the future of the town to be seen to be supporting redevelopment schemes.

“But they are balancing that with the potential impact on neighbouring properties.”

After the Wimbourne Place scheme was refused, architect Michael Joyce accused town planners of being “stuck in the mud”.

That scheme had proposed 84 parking spaces which was also ruled insufficient.