ICE skaters who backed a bid to transform an empty factory into an Olympic-size ice rink roared with applause at Blackpool Town Hall last night as resort councillors gave their seal of approval.
Members of the council’s planning committee voted to approve plans to transform part of the former TVR site on Bristol
Avenue, in Bispham – despite planning officers recommending refusal.
Council officers had said the land was earmarked for industrial and employment use, and not leisure use.
But the committee heard there were up to 99 industrial buildings currently empty in the resort.
Coun Mark Smith said: “What is the point of saving more space for it to lie empty for a long time?
“There are 99 empty units in Blackpool, and there are 13 units with more than 20,000 square feet.”
Committee member Coun Jim Elmes said: “The main argument seems to be that this land is designated industrial land, but industry is not the main stay of the town. Blackpool is a tourism and leisure
Councillors in support of the application also argued there was a precedent to approve leisure sites in the area because of the two gyms nearby.
Planning officers said there was not enough parking at the site to accommodate people who would likely come from out of town to visit the rink, leading to on-street parking in residential neighbourhoods.
But the councillors argued there was plenty of parking when the site functioned as a motor vehicle factory.
Following the meeting there was jubilation on the Town Hall steps as members of the Fylde Coast Figure Skating Club, which has always supported the application, celebrated the news.
Councillors deferred the application back to the officers to consider imposing conditions on the development.
The two gyms and small industrial units at the front of the site would not be affected by the plans.
FULL STORY AND REACTION - SEE TUESDAY’S GAZETTE.