Meet the landed gentry

Damian and Helen Broughton

Damian and Helen Broughton

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Meet the new owners of Lytham’s former Land Registry – a landmark building which was perilously close to becoming an eyesore.

The For Sale/May Let sign which has stood outside the £3m East Beach property for three years will soon display a Sold sign. The husband and wife team with the key to the door hope to return it a business footing, and also turn it into a community asset.

Danbro accountancy firm managing directors Damian and Helen Broughton say there’s also potential for a small hotel and apartments.

It’s a building where viewing is definitely recommended. Each room has a view – across the estuary or up to Lytham Windmill and the Green.

Put one of the better budget hotels here, a Hampton by Hilton, Mercure or Premier Inn perhaps, and the place would pack out in no time, and still leave trade for more traditional hotels.

Birkenhead House, built in the 1960s, accommodated 700 Land Registry workers until the site, and many jobs, were axed in 2009, and the workforce relocated to Warton.

The Broughtons plan to change the name to Jubilee House, but Helen admits: “It will always be the Land Registry to locals. Former workers feel very fond of the place. It was a happy place. You get that vibe still.

“As with British Aerospace, people have an emotional attachment. That’s one reason why we want to offer community facilities. I’m particularly keen on social enterprise, and charities, that’s where my heart is. We now have the space to help.

“It’s also the ideal location for a workforce, handy for Lytham’s great coffee shops, restaurants, cafes, just a stroll along the front away. You can achieve a great work-life balance for staff in a place like this.

“We like our current offices in Blackpool, and they are handy for the motorway, but everything you do in life is a compromise – and this offers more potential in the longer term.

“We want a canteen, a staff gym, and other facilities as well as offices. And the natural light throughout is fantastic.

“We were blown away when we saw it,” admits Damian. “We went in and said wow. It’s so right for us. It’s a bit overwhelming at times, but then you break it down bit by bit, one step at a time.”

The site was previously targeted as a discount food chain base. Or for housing. Both involved demolition. The location is one of the best in south Fylde, the definitive des res near Lytham Quays. The couple have suggested apartments, as it’s an obvious option to make the most of the space over and above their requirements. “But it’s early days,” adds Helen. “Our plans are what we call paper plans at present. We can rub them out. What we won’t rub out is our community ethos.”

Marketing man Gerry Gregoire, part of a team which has just finished an 12-month-long 8,000-mile relay charity bike ride, agrees. “It’s all about getting the right balance and giving something back.”

The firm hopes to relocate within 12 months. Yet it’s little more than 12 years since former Fylde Council officer Helen ran the family’s accountancy business out of the front room of their family home at Kirkham. Having been made redundant himself, Damian worked away with big name firms to pay the bills until his own business took off.

Named after the first of their three children (Daniel Broughton) Danbro has become one of the fastest-growing privately-owned firms in the UK. It has featured in the Sunday Times Fast track 100 for four consecutive years since its maiden listing in 2007 – one of only two companies to ever achieve such a feat.

Last year, it won Business of the Year and Employer of the Year in the Be Inspired Business Awards.

“Our very first employee worked in our garage, within a space of 5ft by 6ft,” says Helen – who now has 77,406sq ft at her disposal.

“Nothing will ever match the elation I felt when we got our first proper office on Whitehills, but this comes close. We used to watch West Wing on telly. I never dreamed we would have one of our own!”

jacqui.morley@blackpoolgazette.co.uk or tweet her @jacquimorley