Wrecking crews move in to demolish arson-hit Blackpool hotel

Demolition work begins on the Palm Beach Hotel in South Shore.  Pictured are Pat Flanagan and Geoff Terry from Create Construction

Demolition work begins on the Palm Beach Hotel in South Shore. Pictured are Pat Flanagan and Geoff Terry from Create Construction

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One of the biggest eyesores blighting Blackpool’s tourism image is now being demolished.

Workers have moved in to take down the fire damaged Palm Beach Hotel on South Promenade.

The team from Blackpool-based Create Construction will spend the next 12 weeks on the demolition of the site and the Bourne Hotel next door in Wimbourne Place which is set to cost around £400,000.

The ground will be cleared before work begins on an £8.5m new hotel to be run under the Hilton’s Hampton brand.

This is due to be completed and open by spring 2018 in time for the summer season.

The clearance will create 12 jobs while the building project will need around 100 people at its height, most of which will be local.

Gill Mathison from Create Construction in Hallam Way said she was delighted to be able to remove the eyesore which has repeatedly attracted arsonists, vandals and drug users.

She said: “It’s been four and a half years since we started the process and so to finally see it come to fruition is really exciting.

“It will improve the local area and I know the residents are keen for it to happen.

“We are arranging a meeting with residents in the next few days to let them know what the plans are in terms of the process of demolition and construction.

“It will also to keep them up to speed on road closures as well as give them a chance to meet the team.”

She said the relationship with their neighbours was crucial.

She added: “We are a local company and we are going to be here as neighbours for 18 months so we really want to do this right. It is very important to us.”

Geoff Terry, senior project manager on the site said the demolition process would be complicated but when the building work begins he said it would create work for many local people and companies.

He said: “The state the building was left in is a problem. It was unsafe and there were needles and things left behind which are a safety concern.

“We have been working with Blackpool and the Fylde College and Blackpool Build Up with regard to workers and the local supply chain.

“So far we have had some great feedback from the residents nearby.”

The new hotel will have 131 rooms and will create 40 jobs.

It is Hilton’s family oriented brand which Mrs Mathison said should suit that part of the resort.

The site has in the past been described as an embarrassment to Blackpool for the way it looked following the fire in June 2014.

The Palm Beach, together with the boarded-up Warwick and the Kimberley have been described as giving a bad impression at one of the gateways for visitors to Blackpool.

The vacant buildings have repeatedly been the target of vandals and arsonists and in February this year two men were convicted of starting the June 2014 fire.

At its height, there were 12 fire engines at the scene and 70 firefighters battling the blaze.

Around 30 residents from Clifton Drive had to be evacuated in the night until it was made safe.

Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “A lot of people will be happy to see the end of these burned-out, run-down hotels – myself included.

“We’ve been keen to move on with the demolition as soon as possible so that we can remove this eyesore and start work on transforming it into a Hampton by Hilton hotel.

“The new hotel will provide a much better entrance for people driving in to Blackpool along the Promenade, as well as adding something different to our accommodation offer for visitors and businesses.

“Now the site has been properly secured, it should make the building and the area safer for local neighbours, while also putting more people into work, boosting the local economy and regenerating an important area of South Promenade.”

Local Waterloo ward councillor, Derek Robertson, who also runs a hotel, said the demolition was fantastic for South Shore.

He said: “Those hotels have been an eyesore for far too long. That area is the first impression people get when coming into the resort from that direction and those 
sad, derelict buildings did not give a good impression.

“I am delighted the demolition is under way and pleased that much of the work is going to local people.”