‘Ripping heart out of our area’

Coun Edward Nash (centre) and fellow campaigners who have vowed to fight the flats plans.

Coun Edward Nash (centre) and fellow campaigners who have vowed to fight the flats plans.

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RESIDENTS are gearing up for a “David and Goliath” fight as they prepare to take on a developer and stop the heart being “ripped out” of their community.

McCarthy and Stone has been refused permission to demolish St Annes pub The Victoria – known as The Vic – on Church Road to make way for retirement flats.

But the company is appealing Fylde Council’s decision and will now face the Victoria Hotel Community Association in a landmark planning inquiry battle.

Although the council will make an opening statement, it will be up to the residents to convince a planning inspector the development should not be given the green light.

The inquiry is now only weeks away and the association is in the final stages of preparing its arguments.

Coun Edward Nash, who is leading the community group, said: “They are ripping the heart out of the community so it will just become a grey sludge place.

“It was built as a working class hotel to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

“We don’t want them to demolish the pub – it belongs to the community.”

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The group’s arguments will focus on the fact there are other suitable sites in the borough which could be used for the 40 apartment development, including already derelict land on the Promenade and Orchard Road.

They also claim there are no other similar facilities nearby – and hope to call on new localism legislation which states the community should have a say on what is built where.

The group, backed by hundreds of people, believe it is the first time a community group has taken on a developer at an appeal, and Coun Nash said: “It is turning into a case of David and Goliath. Why do they want to take something away from our community that is a real community treasure? We are going to win, there are no two ways about it.”

The association meets regularly and its next meeting will be held on Wednesday at 8pm in The Vic.

The planning inquiry takes place on April 24 and 25.

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