Planning row halts flats work

Tony Mulligan with staff who could lose their jobs after the council refused permission for flats they are building

Tony Mulligan with staff who could lose their jobs after the council refused permission for flats they are building

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A developer has hit out at council planners after he was forced to stop work on a scheme to convert rundown properties into new homes.

Tony Mulligan says he has invested around £500,000 upgrading premises on Springfield Road in Blackpool.

But a planning oversight has meant work on four flats has had to stop.

Mr Mulligan did not need to apply for planning permission but should have secured prior approval before starting work, which means notifying the council of the scheme including submitting drawings.

He said: “I have been buying up the buildings on that street to convert them to flats.

“I’ve spent about £500,000. I didn’t need planning permission, but had gone ahead and started the work once the drawings had gone in to the council.

“But then I was turned down for prior approval and so have had to stop work, putting jobs at risk. It has put me off wanting to put any more money into this town.

“The council is asking us to invest and then putting barriers up. I have 10 lads working for me but might have to lay them off.

“These buildings were derelict, but the council is stopping investment just because they said I couldn’t start work before they had ticked a box.”

But the council said all developers had to stick to the rules.

Coun Mark Smith, cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and economic development, said: “Planning laws are in place for a reason. Development work should not take place without the necessary prior approval.

“In this particular case, an application for prior approval had not been submitted before work commenced which is a requirement of the legislation.

“While we encourage investment in the town, it’s important the correct process is followed and people stay within the law.”