Blackpool man's telephone box business dream is dogged by red tape

Craig Brown at the telephone box in Abingdon Street where he wanted to open a retail business for pet owners
Craig Brown at the telephone box in Abingdon Street where he wanted to open a retail business for pet owners

A man is claiming woof justice after his business plan to open a dog accessories kiosk in a telephone box was thrown out.

Craig Brown said he is very disappointed to have been shut down on his first day of trading when council officials said he could not use the red box outside the former post office in Abingdon Street as a shop.

The listed telephone boxes on Abingdon Street

The listed telephone boxes on Abingdon Street

Craig said he had rented the box from Red Kiosk in Brighton with plans to turn it into a mini-retail site for dog owners.

The firm has rented out boxes in London and other areas to use as street kiosks selling anything from hats to take away coffees.

He said he had talked to the council about business rates but did not realise he might need change of use planning permission or a street trading licence as he thought it was on private land.

He said: “I am very disappointed and appealing for anyone who might be able to help. I have even written to the Prime Minister.

“I had just got my stock set up inside ready to start at 10am to work there until 5pm and the council officers came along and said I had to stop. I had a meeting on March 5 with planning and trading standards but they said it was not possible.

“I had discussed my plan with the owners and they did not say I would need planning permission. The only changes I need to make would be some stickers on the box and a handle and lock.

“I was told it would cost £462 for a planning application and as it was a listed building would be unlikely to get it. I thought it would be a unique little business, handy for dog walkers and making use of a telephone box that is standing empty.”

John Blackledge, director of community and environmental services, said: “For the purposes of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, Abingdon Street is designated a prohibited street meaning that the council has no lawful authority to issue a street trading consent along this street.

"We therefore stopped the trading activities at this particular location.

“There was also a separate matter. It is important that we try to conserve buildings and structures which make a positive contribution to the character of our streets. The phone boxes on Abingdon Street are Grade ll listed and consent from the council is required for any proposed changes.

“On this occasion it appears that our planning department was not contacted before changes started to be made. We have recently been in discussions with Mr Brown to discuss his proposals and advise him of local trading and planning requirements.

"We would advise anyone looking to set up this type of business to check with the council in the first instance so that we can advise on local conditions.”