Council set to buy key site

Photo Neil Cross
The delapidated houses in Leopold Grove, Blackpool
Photo Neil Cross The delapidated houses in Leopold Grove, Blackpool
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Blackpool Council is set to spend more than half a million pounds to buy and demolish run-down buildings alongside the Winter Gardens.

Town hall chiefs are proposing to borrow £557,000 over 50 years, which will be repaid using income generated from the site.

Photo Neil Cross
The delapidated houses in Leopold Grove, Blackpool

Photo Neil Cross The delapidated houses in Leopold Grove, Blackpool

They say the deal makes financial sense because the council can borrow at very low interest rates and bolster its revenue at the same time.

The buildings are derelict former solicitors’ offices on Leopold Grove.

In the short term the properties will be demolished and the land used as a pay and display car park, if the scheme goes ahead.

But over a longer period, there could be development opportunities in line with the proposed new conference centre and museum at the Winter Gardens.

Photo Neil Cross
The delapidated houses in Leopold Grove, Blackpool

Photo Neil Cross The delapidated houses in Leopold Grove, Blackpool

The council’s executive committee is being recommended to approve the proposal when it meets on Monday.

A report to the committee says the purchase would allow “the council to consider further opportunities at the Winter Gardens including using the space for the conference centre proposal.”

It is also felt “the derelict site in its current form detracts from the Blackpool museum and conference centre proposals”.

The report adds: “After demolition, the cleared site could be used as a site compound during the build phase of the conference centre and Blackpool museum, for parking of goods vehicles supporting shows and for pay and display car parking for the town centre.”

Coun Mark Smith, cabinet member for business and economic development, said: “This makes sense because the council can borrow at very low interest rates at the moment and generate a surplus to support services.

“We have to start generating more income and seeing the opportunities out there.

“In the short time I think the site would be used for car parking, but we would acquire the land in the long term to support the development of the Winter Gardens.”

The council is currently waiting to hear if its bid for funding from the government’s Growth Deal towards the £25m cost of the new conference centre has been successful.