A famous Blackpool landmark could be wiped from the resort’s skyline forever.
The 1970s tower at National Savings and Investments’ (NS&I) base in Marton has been earmarked for demolition amid proposals to sell off part of the site – famously home to Premium Bonds selecting super computer ‘ERNIE’.
Heritage chiefs have placed the eight-storey tower on their local listings, a schedule of resort buildings deemed to be of ‘architectural interest’.
But although the status would be taken into account in any planning discussions, it does not prevent redevelopment.
In a letter challenging the proposed listing, solicitors acting on behalf of NS&I say the organisation is “at an advanced stage of the disposal of part of the site, which includes the tower, stock and computer buildings.
“It is important to realise these buildings are proposed to be demolished”.
Carl Carrington, Blackpool Council’s head of heritage, judged the tower to be of significant interest, while one local councillor said it should be saved, stating: “Everyone knows it in the same way they know the (Marton) windmill.”
The NS&I letter says Blackpool Council is aware of the redevelopment proposals.
It adds: “It was also accepted the clearance and redevelopment is needed to secure long-term employment on the site.”
However, Mr Carrington re-iterated the tower was deemed to be of sufficient architectural merit to be included in the local list.
He said: “It is one of the buildings highlighted by our external experts and is mentioned in the Pevsner Architectural Guide Book of North Lancashire.
“It is not particularly old but it is an incredibly interesting building and a big local landmark.”
Mr Carrington added if the tower was to be demolished, he would like to see a photographic audit made.
He said: “We would ask for at least an internal and external photographic record so we have a permanent record for the future of what the building was like so we can protect the public interest in this site.”
NS&I revealed in July it planned to sell surplus land at Marton because it could accommodate all its staff in the smaller Moorland building on the site.
This building now accommodates ERNIE – the famous Electronic Random Number Indicating Equipment that selects Premium Bond winners.
Around 264 staff employed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) at the Marton Mere JobCentre Plus Contact Centre are being moved to offices at Warbreck House in North Shore in the new year.
A spokesman for NS&I declined to comment on plans for redeveloping the site and a formal planning application has yet to be submitted.
But he added: “We’re committed to continuing our presence in Blackpool and are working with the local council to support the redevelopment of the Mythop Road site and to agree acceptable uses that comply with the statutory planning process.”
Coun Debbie Coleman, whose Marton ward includes the Premium Bonds site, said: “I wouldn’t like to see the tower demolished. Everyone knows it in the same way they know the windmill.
“I don’t know what the future plans are for that part of the site at the moment, but if they are going to redevelop it I would like to see something that would incorporate the tower because it would be a shame if it does go.”
People living in Grizedale Road, whose homes overlook the tower, today had mixed views over its significance.
Paul Thompson, 43, said: “I remember it being built and I have quite fond memories of the thing.
“But it would depend what they want to do with it, although it is quite an iconic thing.”
Freda Nowell, 95, said: “I used to work there but I don’t think it would bother me now what they do with it. It’s across the road from me and I don’t think it would make any difference if they keep it or not.”
Patricia Carter, 49, said: “I suppose it is a landmark for people but it depends what they want to put there instead.
“I wouldn’t want a load of houses.”