New post office scheme could create 200 jobs

The former Post Office on Abingdon Street
The former Post Office on Abingdon Street
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Revised plans to redevelop Blackpool’s former main post office have secured planning permission.

The latest blueprint for the Grade II listed building on Abingdon Street has seen proposals for a 50-bedroom hotel shelved in favour of retail development.

The counter hall at the former Post Office on Abingdon Street

The counter hall at the former Post Office on Abingdon Street

Also approved as part of the application, was the removal of the former post office counter and its re-use to form a central kiosk within the main hall on the ground floor.

Councillors were recommended to approve the scheme after hearing it would add to the vitality of Blackpool’s shopping offer.

A report to councillors said “the application property comprises over 6,300 square metres of floorspace, and its re-use for the combination of proposed uses will be of considerable benefit to the town centre economy.”

It added this would “improve Blackpool as a visitor destination, providing a new and attractive indoor shopping, eating and leisure experience within a heritage setting. “

The report goes on to say the scheme would also create an employment boost.

It says “a significant number of jobs would also be provided, indicated to be in the region of 200 people, working within the shops, restaurants, offices and leisure facilities although exact numbers will not be known until the end users are found.”

Blackpool-based developer Joe Thompson, who bought the building in November 2015, has said he hopes to create a mini designer outlet in the building.

Possible investment opportunities could also include a coffee concession in the main counter hall, a restaurant at plaza level and a roof top bar on Edward Street with views over the town and out to sea.

Mr Thompson said: "We are of course delighted to receive this positive planning decision. The former Post Office site is obviously a strategic town centre location and, a development like this will be a great asset to Blackpool."

Heritage chiefs supported the changes to the counter hall but warned there may be a marble mosaic floor under the carpet which should be preserved and made into a feature.

A statement from the council’s built heritage manager says “if the floor is revealed during works it should be repaired and remain exposed if possible.”

The application was approved by Blackpool Council’s planning committee.They also approved listed building consent.

The Post Office was built in 1910, and was used by generations of people until 2007 when the counter service was relocated to WH Smiths in Bank Hey Street.

It re-opened temporarily to provide a parcel collection point, but has been vacant since October 2015 when Blackpool’s main sorting office relocated to a £7m new delivery office at Faraday Way in Bispham.

Its historical significance is reflected by its Grade II listed status.