One-year limit on library site project

Marton Library

Marton Library

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THE owners of Marton Library have one year to get building on the historic site – or face losing planning permission.

The premises were controversially sold off by Blackpool Council in 2004 but so far, it has remained derelict and undeveloped.

John Rochford who owns the site has permission to convert the eye-catching building into two maisonettes and three self-contained flats.

But when the scheme was given the green light in May, planners imposed a condition saying work should begin within six months because of concerns about the condition of the site.

But at a recent meeting of town hall planners, the owner applied for another extension saying there were problems securing funding.

Councillors agreed a time limit of just one year – saying work must be done to clean up the site.

A heated debate broke out at the town hall as councillors described how the site has become overgrown and a dumping ground for fly tippers.

Coun Allan Matthews, ward councillor for Tyldesley, said: “I’ve known this building for 60 years and it’s one of the finest in Blackpool.

“The fact it was sold off so long ago and nothing has been done to it is heartbreaking.

“People who live nearby ring me almost daily asking what is happening to it.

“It is not hard to trim the bushes back so we can see the beautiful foundation stones.

“It looks a disgrace at the moment.”

David Hedwin, spokesman for the applicant said: “We are still waiting to get finance for the scheme, this is the genuine reason for the delay.

“We are living in a very unusual financial situation, the state of the economy is catastrophic for development and banks are simply not lending any money.”

He defended the state of the building saying money had been put into its upkeep.

Coun Tony Brown voted in favour of the extension saying he believed 12 months would not be long enough to secure funding.

He added: “It’s a Catch 22 situation because the building is deteriorating and may do for another three years.

“But the owner may struggle to sell it to another developer if he has to re-apply for permission, I think we should go with what is requested.

Councillors agreed in principal to a 12 month extension, a legal agreement must still be reached regarding payment to Blackpool Council towards the provision of open space.