Blackpool hotel plan given go ahead - but fears raised about deterioration of historic post office
Planners have given the go ahead for Blackpool's former main Post Office to be converted into a 102-bedroom hotel - despite objections from existing b&b owners who warned the move will damage their trade.
The council's planning committee approved the application to transform the Grade II listed building on Abingdon Street and former sorting office on Edward Street, with the scheme also including shops, a bar and a restaurant.
But 11 objections were received including from representatives of hoteliers group StayBlackpool who feared existing hotels could close.
The meeting also heard enforcement action was pending against the owners of the site due to fears about the deterioration of the building which has stood empty for several years.
Committee chairman Coun David Owen said competition could not be considered a planning issue, and added: "It is in no-one's interests to have an empty building on such an important site in the town centre.
"But there is concern as to what has gone on and we are trying to get access inside. It is very probable some kind of enforcement will take place."
Demolition of some structures has been carried out as part of a previous application, which the council says has led to some deterioration in the fabric of the building.
But applicant Joe Thompson said the building was secure with any demolition which had take place being "consistent with the new planning permission."
He said: "The building is otherwise secure and boarded up and, is covered be a fully monitored CCTV and alarm system as dictated by our insurance requirements.
"The comments made are unfounded as we have not granted access to anyone to inspect."
The latest scheme, which is the third set of proposals to be approved for the site, includes two three-storey extensions and would see the hotel built on the Edward Street side of the site, with retail space on Abingdon Street.
Mr Thompson said: "We’re confident this is the best use for the site given other developments in the town and the wider leisure industry, but it now looks likely that we’ll offer the property for sale instead of taking the development forward ourselves."
Ian White, a director of StayBlackpool, told councillors there was already over-capacity on bed spaces with a number of large new hotels earmarked for the town centre.
Speaking after the meeting, he added: "The concerns are that with ever increased numbers of properties and bed spaces, all after the same pool of visitor numbers, there are bound to be significant pressures.
"With less money in the hands of the accommodation provider, corners will be cut and reinvestment will not happen.
"Sadly it is the decent accommodation which fails first. Those at the bottom will continue to cut further corners."