Council buys land at airport for £600k

The Blackpool Airport Enterprise zone area
The Blackpool Airport Enterprise zone area

Blackpool Council is investing almost £600,000 to buy up land at Blackpool Airport in a move to help protect the future of the Squires Gate terminal.

Town hall chiefs have agreed to purchase three plots from the receivers of now defunct Mar Properties which sold the airport to Balfour Beatty in 2008.

The parcels of land include a 20-acre site south of the runway, bordering onto housing in St Annes, which is being bought for £395,000.

Two smaller plots totalling 7.2 acres north of the runway, near existing industrial development, are being bought for £200,000.

The plots are the last pieces of land held by Mar Properties since it ceased trading and were sold by sealed bids.

A council report says the acquisitions would “assist the council in influencing the future sustainable operation of Blackpool Airport which includes the provision of enabling infrastructure and will aid in the successful delivery of the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.”

Alan Cavill, Director of Place at Blackpool Council, said: “This is land that Mar was off loading and is strategically important for the enterprise zone.

“These parcels of land are available for us to develop the enterprise zone and create jobs locally.

The purchases are being funded initially through the £1.6m allocation of funding to support delivery of the enterprise zone.

Town hall chiefs say if they had not stepped in, it would have risked a third party having a negative impact on the future of both the enterprise zone and the airport.

Blackpool Council has retained a five per cent stake in the airport since selling it in 2004 for £13m.

Current owner Balfour Beatty is reported to be negotiating a sale of the airport which no longer operates commercial passenger flights.

A leading councillor says the council should buy the airport outright.

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, said: “It’s public knowledge I have lobbied the council since the beginning of the airport fiasco to take more of an active financial role in securing this valuable asset including buying the airport outright.

“There are still opportunities to develop the business jet side of the facility and also to negotiate charter flights which in turn could lead to an international operator investing in our airport.”