Blackpool MP brands caravan ruling 'a disgrace'

Residents of the Windmill Caravan Park
Residents of the Windmill Caravan Park
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A Blackpool MP is writing to the Government to raise concerns about residents who are set to lose their homes to make way for a coffee shop.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden has branded a planning inspector’s decision to allow caravans to be demolished for the redevelopment “appalling.”

Service station chain Rontec has been allowed to go ahead with the scheme to build what is expected to be a Costa Coffee on land at the back of the Esso garage on Preston New Road, Marton, meaning the demolition of the Windmill Caravan Park.

Blackpool’s planning committee rejected an application for the scheme last June amid fears over the impact on highways, but a planning inspector has over-turned the decision.

Mr Marsden said he would now be writing to the Secretary of State with responsibility for planning and re-examining evidence which formed part of the appeal.

He said: “I think this is an appalling and disgraceful decision by the inspector.

“It potentially condemns a whole group of people to being homeless and rides roughshod over the strong representations they made.

“I think Rontec has behaved disgracefully in pursuing this application as though the people living there are incidental.

“People who feel strongly about this should write to Rontec and they can do that by contacting my office for the address.”

The caravan park, containing 12 mobile homes, is believed to have been on the land since the 1940s.

The council rejected Rontec’s application on traffic grounds but the planning inspector ruled “it not been demonstrated that the development would have an adverse effect on highway or pedestrian safety.”

Rontec did not respond to an approach for a comment.

But the company has previously said it has “fully complied with all its legal obligations” in relation to the site.

Although Rontec owns the site, a third party leases the land to the individual caravan owners and this arrangement was the subject of legal proceedings last year.

Windmill Caravan Park resident Steven Gratrix, who has led the campaign against the plans, said people were devastated by the outcome.

He said: “We’re bitterly disappointed that a coffee shop is more greatly valued than elderly and disabled people’s homes of over 20 years.”