A five-storey hotel could be built on the site of the former Yates’s Wine Lodge, The Gazette can reveal today.
Town hall planners have confirmed they are in talks with developers about a new blueprint for the key site in Blackpool town centre which has been vacant since fire destroyed the historic venue five years ago.
Building firm Reco Build began work last September after a previous planning application was approved for a scheme including a buffet-style restaurant and a Tesco store.
But construction was halted, and it has since emerged a new scheme is on the table.
It is believed to be for a hotel with more than 100 rooms, rising to five storeys in height and with an entrance on Clifton Street.
Coun David Owen, chairman of Blackpool Council’s planning committee, said: “We are in discussions with the developer and will no doubt get an application in the coming weeks.
“They are looking to put a hotel on there.
“We have always been concerned about the low rise of the application granted last time for a restaurant and Tesco. We never thought it was sufficiently high enough to complement other buildings in Talbot Square.
“So from that point of view, we would appreciate a higher elevation but it has to be of quality in its external cladding and must fit in with other existing buildings.
“However the developers are still weighing up their options.”
Coun Fred Jackson, cabinet member for regeneration, has also confirmed there is a fresh application in the pipeline.
He told a recent meeting of the full council: “There is a further application going to go before planning to have a much bigger development on there than originally went through planning.
“I believe more development is expected on the site which will improve the whole site.”
A formal planning application is expected to be submitted in the next six weeks.
A spokesman for Reco Build said the company did not want to comment at this stage, but it is believed the developers are in talks with a potential operator.
There was controversy when Tesco was unveiled as the main tenant for the original £3m scheme, which was granted planning permission in May 2012.
Cosmos, a Pan Asian banquet chain, is the other tenant lined up, but American diner TGI Fridays pulled out of a potential deal to take space in the development.
Coun Owen was among those who spoke out against the Tesco proposal, saying the site deserved a more prestigious scheme.
Any new planning submission would represent a completely fresh application, with the original approval also remaining in force.
Yates’s was destroyed in a suspected arson in February 2009.
The remains of the building, including its famous rotunda, were demolished and the site has remained vacant and boarded up ever since.
Town centre business owners are desperate for some kind of investment on the site.
Pauline Lai, owner of The Mandarin restaurant on Clifton Street, said: “As a restauranteur I would welcome a hotel development.
“It would certainly be better than the eyesore we have there at the moment.
“I believe Blackpool is a really good place to invest in and people shouldn’t under-estimate the tourists that come to Blackpool and their spending power.”
Stephen Pierre, owner of The Galleon Bar on Abingdon Street, said: “Ideally I would have liked to have seen the whole block demolished and a new bus station built, but the council wouldn’t have had the money for that.
“But Blackpool does need more modern hotels, and more of the kind of accommodation which people can easily book online and get good value for.
“So yes, I would like to see something like a Holiday Inn there.”