A HOTELIER today called on town hall bosses to loosen planning red tape to halt the decline of Blackpool’s hotel trade.
As reported in yesterday’s Gazette, the New Kimberley Hotel, on New South Promenade, has been closed down by council and fire chiefs after people were found living in dangerous conditions within its decaying walls.
But Steve Pyatt, who owns the Waldorf Hotel next door to the New Kimberley, claims a lack of flexibility on how hotel premises can be used has caused owners to resort to illegal means in order to make money from their properties.
He believes hotels should be given the option to run as houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) or explore other commercial uses for their property.
Wednesday morning’s raid at the New Kimberley discovered four people living there who claimed to be paying landlord Paul Metcalf £50 per week.
Mr Pyatt said: “It doesn’t really come as a surprise that this has happened. Over the last 10 years the town’s got quieter and quieter.
“You’ve had the recession kicking in and all of this puts pressure on landlords to cut corners wherever they can.
“He’s got a responsibility to keep people safe but how do you do that when you’ve got no money? The hoteliers are getting desperate so there’s going to be a whole lot more of this going on.”
However, not all hoteliers are in favour of a loosening of restrictions.
Pat Francioni, who runs The Alumburst Hotel, on Charnley Road, said: “There’s enough former hotels which are opening as properties taking permanent tenants, and they’re causing grief to hotels and guest houses who are trying to run their businesses properly, so I wouldn’t want to see a slackening of restrictions.”
Coun Gillian Campbell said: “Blackpool is, it’s important to say, a holiday resort.
“There is a demand, therefore, for good quality hotel and guesthouse accommodation and we want to do everything we can to protect that.
“We also know however, from the studies we have carried out, there is an oversupply of hotel and guest house accommodation.
“It’s necessary therefore that some hotel and guest house property is allowed to convert to quality residential property and we do have a small pot of money available to assist with that.
“What we are absolutely clear on is that guesthouses will not be permitted to convert into poor quality flats, HMOs or bedsits and we have stepped up our enforcement regime to make sure this doesn’t happen.
“There is absolutely no excuse for allowing residents to live in dangerous conditions.”
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