Fire-ravaged Yates’s site to be reborn

Pic by Darren Nelson

Pic by Darren Nelson

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Work is set to finally start next month on a huge £3m development on the site of the iconic former Yates’s Wine Lodge in Blackpool.

More than four years after the resort landmark burned to the ground, after a devastating blaze ripped through the building, the site’s owner has today announced it is finally poised to start work at the beginning of September.

National chain Cosmo’s is set to open a buffet-style restaurant on the first floor, while Tesco is lined up to take part of the ground floor, with other ground floor units still available. The announcement comes after calls for the work to begin, amid concerns the site has become an eyesore. The news comes after community leaders told of their upset at the inactivity at the site. Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative group on Blackpool Council, said the site has been left to become “nothing more than a deserted bomb site.”

He added: “This was the home of Blackpool’s first library and also the famous Yates’s Wine Lodge where stars of the shows and other celebrities would rub shoulders with visitors and residents to enjoy Champagne on draught or a Hot Horlicks and Rum on a cold day.

“Every time I look out from my office at the town hall, I am saddened to see such a waste.

“The fire that destroyed these buildings was an unexpected and disastrous tragedy but to see the dereliction that now exists is heartbreaking.”

Planning permission was granted more than a year ago for the redevelopment and originally it had been hoped to start work last summer.

The designs include 26,000 square feet of leisure and retail space, and a 15m high Art-Deco inspired tower including a clock and curved balcony in place of the rotunda that featured on the former Yates’s Wine Lodge building.

Talbot ward councillor Mark Smith said: “I am pleased work is due to start as everyone wants to see this area regenerated.

“It does look like an eyesore at the moment.

“The council’s planning department has worked closely with the developers to ensure it is a high grade building on what is a very prominent site, and we want something that respects the history and importance of the site.”

Pauline Lai (pictured), who owns The Mandarin Restaurant and the Rouge Club, both on Clifton Street, said businesses were also desperate to see work start.

She said: “Clifton Street was one of the major streets in Blackpool, but since Yates’s burned down it has become the forgotten street.

“Hopefully this will be the catalyst for more investment in this part of the town centre.”

The site has been empty since a blaze ripped through Yates’s in February 2009.

Colne-based construction company RECO Build has been awarded the contract to undertake the development.

Managing director Nick Richardson said: “In the first instance we will be preparing the site, as at the moment it is a demolition site.

“We will be taking out the old cellars, crushing the material and using it as infill before carrying out ground improvements, putting in traditional foundations and then a steel framework.”