We don’t want a rival

Fylde By Air  / aerial view 'May 2008'Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Fylde By Air / aerial view 'May 2008'Blackpool Pleasure Beach

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Pleasure Beach bosses have warned the future of the park could be put at risk if a rival operator is allowed to open on Blackpool’s Central Car Park site.

They are calling on the council to use a new planning document to ensure the attraction is protected from such a possibility for years to come.

A planning inspector is due to announce his ruling on the issue at the end of this month.

In a submission in response to consultation by Blackpool Council, Nick Laister representing the Pleasure Beach, warns allowing another amusement park to open in the town centre could have harmful consequences for existing operators, and subsequently be damaging to the town as a whole.

He says it “could have far-reaching, long-term effects on the viability of the Pleasure Beach ”and any such damage would be potentially “harmful to Blackpool’s economy as a whole.”

But the council says it believes the document’s amended wording which states development will be allowed providing it is “not undermining existing resort core uses and attractions” is strong enough.

It says it wants any new operator to complement rather than compete with existing attractions.

A Pleasure Beach spokesman said: “As a major stakeholder and investor in Blackpool we welcome Blackpool Council’s local plan to encourage innovate and world beating investment.

“We have been consulted on the plan and have made a number of representations, which we believe will assist the Council and the town in attracting new investment.”

The council has designated the Central Car Park site as a leisure quarter in its new Core Strategy, which sets out the town’s planning framework for the next 15 to 20 years.

In recent years proposals have come forward for the land including a super-casino and a snow-based indoor attraction, but so far no firm investment proposals have been taken forward.

Following a public hearing in front of a planning inspector in May at which the Pleasure Beach raised its concerns about potential future uses of the Central Station site, the council agreed to amend the policy to state no new uses could undermine existing attractions.

But the Pleasure Beach maintains it still does not go far enough.

The Council wrote to RPS Planning and Development consutancy, representing the Pleasure Beach and said: “We are still somewhat uncomfortable with the idea to ‘rule out’ certain types of development as it strays into the realms of competition which is not a planning consideration. However, in recognition of your concerns we propose some additional wording to strengthen the support for existing core uses and attractions.”

In his submission, Mr Laister adds: “While we welcome this additional strengthening of the policy, we consider that it needs to be made clear within part 3 of the policy that development that will undermine existing attractions will not be permitted.

“As stated at the hearing, we consider that this should make specific reference to an ‘amusement park’, as the economy of Blackpool relies heavily on the continued success of existing amusement parks.

“Such a policy would not be soley protecting Blackpool Pleasure Beach, as there are other amusement parks in the town, specifically on North, Central and South Piers.”

Peter Sedgwick, who owns all three of Blackpool piers, said he backed the Pleasure Beach’s calls for protection within the core strategy.

He said: “We want to see the Central Station site developed, but it has to be something different to the attractions we already have which is why I suggested a snow-based attraction when the council asked me for ideas.

“It would be nice if that was put in black and white in the new plan.

“The council has done a lot for the town and we need to keep that momentum going and not do anything that might risk what we’ve already got here in Blackpool.”