Housing chiefs have unveiled their biggest project to date as part of a £26m 10-year programme to transform Blackpool’s failing hotels into affordable homes.
The first tenants have now moved into properties on Albert Road which have been converted from the former Malibu and Astoria hotels.
Work has been overseen by the Blackpool Housing Company (BHC) which was set up in 2015 to end the cycle of neglected hotels being turned into squalid bedsits.
The Malibu had operated as a notorious party hotel until it closed at the end of the 2015 season, while the Astoria never recovered from a blaze in 2013.
They had 60 bedrooms between them, which have now been converted to 20 one and two-bedroom apartments.
BHC is wholly owned by Blackpool Council and secured the £26m through the Lancashire Growth Deal.
It has already invested more than £12.5m in property assets, acquired nearly 60 property sites across inner Blackpool and currently has a portfolio of more than 150 homes to rent ranging from one bed apartments to four bed family homes.
BHC managing director David Galvin, said: “We recognise that to make the necessary impact and regenerate the inner area of Blackpool, we will need to operate on a large scale.
“The company has focused on purchasing property that has negatively impacted the town, property that either provides substandard and often cramped accommodation or in many cases, is sat empty, unused and derelict.
“These properties were a blight on Albert Road previously creating problems for local neighbours and other hotels.
“Our investment here demonstrates what we are aiming to achieve in our mission to improve living standards.
“The company has been renovating its property portfolio to high standards and under a new brand tag of My Blackpool Home, providing a wide range of accommodation options for rental across the town catering for families, couples and single people.”
Coun Jim Hobson, chairman of My Blackpool Home, said: “Our ambition was for the new company to become a landlord of choice in the town, working alongside other responsible landlords to provide accommodation that people will choose to live in.
“Along with other initiatives the council is undertaking, we want to challenge the poor quality and often shoddy accommodation that has unfortunately plagued parts of Blackpool, operating at the lowest end of the market and fuelled by housing benefit.
“Blackpool Housing Company is part of the council’s wider strategy to tackle the trend of decline in the private rental market.
“Improving housing is the key priority for Blackpool going forward and is vital to helping to tackle many of the social problems which have been a barrier for the town for decades.”
Malcolm McPhee, 53, is among the first five tenants to have moved in after he got fed up of anti-social behaviour near his previous home in Bispham.
Mr McPhee, who has worked as a chef all over the world, said: “I wanted to move and heard about this place last November.
“The flats are nice and you can’t argue with the rent at £90 a week.
“It’s really warm and well insulated, and I hardly need the heating on so it’s very energy efficient. It also feels very safe.
“There are parts of Blackpool which are an eyesore so to have converted a building like this which was becoming derelict into new homes for people, is a really good idea.”
Chris Moorhouse has run the neighbouring Avon Hotel on Albert Road for 14 years and has welcomed the development.
He said: “The Malibu was the wrong type of hotel for this street and when the person running it left, no one else wanted to take it on.
“And the Astoria was very badly damaged from the fires there. So we had two empty properties next to us.
“I think what has been done to them now is brilliant.
“There has been some discord on the street, and I understand that because people have had bad experiences when places have had the wrong people in.
“But tenants here have given us no hassle or trouble at all.”
Contractor Eric Wright Group had to undertake a complex development.
This has included removal of non-original additions including roof-lifts, demolition of some areas, and retaining and repairing decorative features.
The properties have now been completely re-roofed with a mixture of existing and new slates.
Fire safety measures have been installed, along with the latest energy efficiency measures.