Bid to tackle blight caused by failed B&Bs
Strict rules governing development in Blackpool's holiday zones could be eased in a bid to prevent failing guesthouses blighting tourism areas.
Current restrictions mean guesthouses in the main holiday zones cannot easily be converted to residential use.
But in some instances this has led to properties being abandoned and boarded up, creating an eyesore in the neighbourhood.
Now town hall planners are proposing a more flexible approach which would enable holiday accommodation to be converted to other uses if it is proved it is no longer viable.
Any new investment would have to comply with council standards of development.
But hotel chiefs say any change must not open the way for more HMOs (houses of multiple occupation) which attract unruly tenants.
A report is due to go before the next meeting of the council executive committee on April 24 following a review of the holiday area planning policies.
It says the council should modify its policy to recognise “the issue of vacant and abandoned properties within the holiday accommodation areas.”
Amendments are proposed “to allow proven non-viable businesses to change use to residential”.
It is believed this could “assist in reducing the number of vacant/abandoned premises in the holiday accommodation areas.”
Gary Johnston, head of planning at Blackpool Council, said the existing policy was working well to protect the holiday areas, but added that “moving forward there needs to be more flexibility or we face having properties being boarded up, and that doesn’t help the trading potential of that area.”
Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, warned any changes must not make it easier for HMOs to open.
She said: “In certain roads it works well to allow some b&bs to convert to residential, and I have seen some lovely homes created.
“But I know operators in the main central holiday area would be very worried if this led to more HMOs which can attract anti-social behaviour.
“It all depends on the type of landlord and the type of tenants they bring in.”
The former Malibu and Astoria hotels on Albert Road in the main holiday area are currently being converted to flats by the Blackpool Housing Company.
The need to tackle over capacity of holiday accommodation has been recognised since 2010 when the council created six designated holiday areas, plus the Promenade.
Analysis carried out as part of the policy review shows between 2008 and 2016, the total number of bed spaces in Blackpool has reduced by 11,315 leaving a total of 49,400 bed spaces.
Stricter controls have been adopted to prevent properties being converted to HMOs, while this year the council has also agreed to introduce a selective licensing scheme in the town centre aimed at encouraging more responsible landlords.