Latest Blackpool town centre hotel plan looks set for approval

Planning chiefs will next week consider the third set of proposals to come forward in recent years for the transformation of Blackpool's Grade II listed former main Post Office.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 3:47 pm
Blackpool's Abingdon Street Post Office

The latest blueprint for the historic building on Abingdon Street would see a 102-bedroom hotel built on the site along with shops, a bar and a restaurant.

Councillors are being recommended to approve a full planning application and give listed building consent for the scheme.

The property's owner, Blackpool-based investor Thompson Developments, has previously secured permission for a 50-bedroom hotel but later shelved those plans in favour of creating a new shopping quarter.

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Inside the old Post Office

However, neither scheme has gone ahead, and the latest proposals were submitted earlier this year.

In the meantime, the building, which as well as the former post office also includes the former sorting office, has suffered some vandalism including an arson attack on Boxing Day 2018.

A council planning report says the buildings "are important heritage features of the town centre conservation area" but "have suffered some damage with windows being smashed and a fire on the upper floors."

It adds: "The latest and current applications represent a further opportunity to adapt the buildings to ensure their long term future and beneficial re-use adding to the town centre offer of hotel, retail, restaurant/ cafe and leisure uses with ancillary offices."

Town hall planners say the changes would help safeguard the future of the landmark whose frontage is built from ornate white Portland stone.

The report says: "It is accepted the viability of the scheme and importance of bringing this key town centre building back into use necessitates some adaptation of the buildings, but the overall public and heritage benefits of having the building converted and re-used ensuring its long term future outweigh the changes required."

If it goes ahead, work would include building two three-storey extensions, one of which would accommodate an enclosed staircase, while the other would boast a roof terrace overlooking Abingdon Street.

The Edward Street buildings, which once housed the sorting office, would be converted to form a 102-bedroom hotel with a bar, leisure facilities, shops and some form of restaurant or cafe.

The existing service yard would be reconfigured as a car park with up to 46 spaces.

There would also be a first-floor hotel terrace and a new hotel entrance, while up to 200 jobs could be created as a result of the development which is due to go before Blackpool Council's planning committee on Tuesday.

The first application to be approved for the building by the council three years ago was for a 50-bedroom hotel along with leisure and retail use, restaurants and cafes.

The application was later put to one side as developers decided to ditch the hotel and instead create a shopping outlet and offices, branded The Red Box Quarter.

However, neither scheme has come to anything, with the building continuing to lie empty.

The post office, which was built in 1910, has been a listed building since 1991, while the eight cast iron telephone boxes at the front, are also Grade II listed.

The telephone boxes will not be affected by the development of a hotel, while other historic features to be preserved include the original post office counter and a mosaic floor.

If the scheme is agreed, it would be the latest town centre hotel to get the green light - with a 142-bedroom Holiday Inn on Talbot Road, and a 203-bedroom hotel on Adelaide alongside the Winter Gardens, already having planning approval.

Two further hotels are currently under construction in the town centre - a 150-bedroom Premier Inn in Talbot Square, and the 91-bedroom Sands Hotel on Central Promenade.

The Post Office counter service was transferred to WH Smith's in Bank Hey Street in 2007, while the old sorting office moved to a £7m new Royal Mail Delivery Centre at Faraday Way in Bispham in 2015.