Bid to convert historic pub to new homes

Exterior of the Empress Hotel on Exchange Street in Blackpool.
Exterior of the Empress Hotel on Exchange Street in Blackpool.
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An historic Blackpool pub could be converted into flats after failing to attract enough trade.

The Empress Hotel, on Exchange Street, North Shore, which in its heyday boasted the likes of Mae West, Sir Edward Heath, Johnny ‘Tarzan’ Weismuller and Sir Robin Day among its customers, has been closed since June.

Now proposals have been submitted to Blackpool Council seeking planning permission to convert the building into nine flats and a shop.

But applicant Richard Crawley says the architectural features of the building will be retained.

The Empress Hotel was built in 1847 and is included in the council’s local listings in recognition of its historic merit.

A design statement accompanying the planning application says the operators do not intend to renew the licence.

It says: “Unfortunately, either as a pub or hotel, in the last years of its existence it started to gain a bad reputation and started to decay in quality.”

The statement adds: “Unfortunately the new incumbents couldn’t make a go of it and so the place is now closed and waiting for a new life that we believe can be found through this proposed development.”

And it assures “interesting architectural elements” will be preserved in the exterior and interior of the building if the development goes ahead.

Coun Ivan Taylor, whose Claremont ward includes the Empress Hotel, said: “The Empress is one of the oldest pubs in Blackpool and it would be a shame to see it go.

“But it has had an unsettled history over recent years and, like a lot of pubs, has

struggled. We already have a high number of flats in this area but if this application meets all the conditions it is difficult to resist. The Empress is a landmark in Blackpool, but if it’s not sustainable we have to look to the future.”