PLANS for a £6m transformation of a worn out multi-storey car park have been put on hold after councillors called for art deco friezes on the building to be preserved if possible.
Blackpool Council’s planning committee had been recommended to agree the proposals for a complete refurbishment of the Talbot Road car park.
But instead they deferred the application and called on developers Muse to attempt to save the decorative tiling which has been hidden beneath cladding since the 1960s.
Muse is proposing to upgrade the car park and re-clad it using vertical glass strip panels designed to create a modern appearance.
The plans would see 653 car parking spaces provided and six retail units on the ground floor with the building refurbished around its original concrete frame.
The structure was one of the first multi-storey car parks in the country when it was built in the 1930s and calls have been made for it to be listed.
Its art deco friezes were covered with cladding when some of the tiling became damaged.
And planning committee chairman Coun David Owen said: “A lot of us here have a feeling for the town’s heritage and these decorations on the exterior were very important and very prominent and fitted in very well with the art deco appearance.
“This was one of the first car parks of this type so there were good arguments to having it listed.
“The cladding was put on because it was cheaper to do that than repair the tiling, some of which was dropping off.
“But it is evident the applicant wants to return to a form of cladding and I think that’s against the whole spirit of the Central Business District.”
Coun Peter Evans added: “The developers should be asked to remove some of the cladding and look at what is underneath because as far as I remember, it was quite ornate.”
Coun Christine Wright said: “In the Winter Gardens there was cladding and when it was removed, mirrors were found underneath and they had not been damaged. I think we ought to be able to see what is underneath there.”
But Peter Cross, the council’s head of transport, warned the friezes may not be salvageable.
He told the committee: “My understanding is the original friezes were quite severely damaged because of the use of the car park during the war as a munitions factory.
“So I don’t believe they will be in particularly good condition.”
The committee agreed to defer the application in order for an assessment to be carried out to discover if any of the friezes can be preserved as part of the redevelopment of the car park.
The scheme is part of phase one of the £220m Central Business District which also includes a Sainsbury’s supermarket and new council offices.
Originally it had been proposed to bulldoze the car park completely but financial pressure forced a decision to refurbish it instead.