Ideas are being invited for the extension of a seafront site to become a prime coastal attraction.
Councillors have agreed to set up a working party to discuss the future of The Island in St Annes and aim to invite proposals from investors to transform the beachside land into a year-round magnet for tourists and residents.
The idea is described as ‘a broad marketing exercise’ but it is understood that one interested party has already come forward with a tentative proposal for the site, which was occupied by the St Annes outdoor pool until the late 1980s.
Fylde Council, which has marketed the site since the closure of the outdoor pool and maintains the freehold there, is keen to make it as broad-ranging a process as possible, with any development likely to take into account ongoing improvements to sea defences as part of its seafront masterplan.
The Island site - originally known as Pleasure Island and stikll featuring some signs with its original name – currently includes a cinema, amusement arcade and Toby Carvery pub as well as shops in train carriages parked permanently on the promenade and other seasonal attractions.
While Fylde Council owns the freehold of the entire Island site. brewers Mitchell and Butlers hold the lease of the main Island building, the Salters Wharf public house and carvery, the railway carriages and the car park to the front, while the remainder of the leased area is sub-let to PDJ Management (Lytham) Ltd, who run The Island cinema.
PDG, in turn, has a number of sub-lettings, including a new restaurant set to open soon – and the council has stressed that no major regeneration of The Island could take place without coming to an arrangement, or working in partnership, with the main leaseholders.
Fylde Council’s tourism and leisure committee chairman Cheryl Little said: “It is a case of maximising the site’s potential.
“There are some very good popular businesses on there already but it is important to really make the most of what could be a really big attraction for visitors and residents all year round.
“We know there are people out there are with ideas and hopefully ready to make an investment and we want to hear from them.”
Coun Little, who is also the new town mayor of St Annes, added: “It is important that we do everything we can to build on the momentum which has been built up in recent years with the extra visitors we have brought into Fylde thanks to events such as the Lytham Festival, the 1940s Weekend and the St Annes Kite Festival, which have grown so much so rapidly.
“We have our wonderful beach which is of course a prime attraction in itself but there is so much we could offer all year round and we would really be interested to hear ideas which allow us to build on what we have already and really look forward to the future.”
Paul Jervis, managing director of PDJ Management, said he would be interested to hear more of the council’s plans but broadly welcomed the idea of a seafront revamp.
“We have invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in the business over the last few years, with new seating, a new foyer, new screens and a lot of work on improving the building and our cinema attendance figures have doubled in the last four years so we are very happy with the way the business is going,” he said.
“But anything which would bring in extra visitors and help the business has to be welcome.”
A spokesman for Mitchell and Butlers said: “We would welcome the new improvements and can only see this as an opportunity for us as a business trading in the location already and for the wider local area too.
“We are extremely busy in the summer months and with the council’s plans to add to the facilities at Salters Wharf this will help attract new guests all year round.”
The council has set a two-month target for attracting proposals and Coun Little said it was hoped a new look for The Island might be in place by 2020 to tie in with the launch of the Fylde Local Plan.
Anyone interested in finding out more is asked to contact the planning department at Fylde Council on (01253) 658658.