Time limit on plan for library eyesore

Marton Library
Marton Library
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WORK to transform a former library into housing will start within six months if proposals are given the green light.

Councillors say Marton Library, controversially closed and sold at auction in 2004, has become an ‘eyesore’ for local residents.

At a planning meeting yesterday an application to transform the library into two maisonettes and three self-contained flats was deferred for legal agreement.

But councillors agreed when the go-ahead is given to the development work must start within six months.

Coun Valerie Haynes said the site had been allowed to stand as an ‘eyesore’ in Blackpool for too long.

She said: “I don’t have anything against the development and am in favour of bringing the building back to life but I have a problem with the timings.

“Normally when we approve an application a condition is that the developer has three years to start work and bearing in mind this building has been derelict for seven years I think it is about time something started happening here.”

Several schemes have been mooted since Blackpool council closed the Waterloo Road library including a community centre and nursery.

In 2008 permission was granted to convert the library into three houses, but last year the applicant, John Rochford submitted new plans for five smaller dwellings siting the recession as the reason for changing his mind.

At yesterday’s meeting Coun Roy Haskett said the problem with converting the library into homes was parking.

He said: “I do not feel that parking has been considered a priority here, and it very much is a priority as there is no parking.

“We have gone from one house to three and now to five individual properties which not only brings about more private cars but more visitor parking as well.

“I don’t feel the area can take this development and I feel very strongly that not enough consideration has been taken with regard to traffic management.”

A spokesman for highways said the increased parking would lead to questions and criticism from the public and would worsen the problems for current residents.

Applicant John Rochford said he had grown up on Waterloo Road and his main aim was to keep the heritage of the building a key feature.

He said; “When I submitted plans for three houses in 2008 business was booming, the casino was coming and great things were afoot – but just around the corner was the recession.

“I had to change my plans as that proposal was not feasible. This one however is and affordable accommodation is very much needed in the Waterloo area.

“My family owned a house not far from the library which I used as a small boy, that is why I have been keen to develop the library myself. I don’t want to see the heritage lost, it is not a listed building but it is important.”

If plans are approved the two maisonettes would be at either end of the building with their own front doors and the flats would have a communal front door.

External alterations include the installation of rear dormers, alterations to the window arrangements, insertion of two front doors, bin storage and one car parking space. The crest and inscription above the door would be kept.