Delays go on at council’s hotel

Ocean Hotel on the Promenade
Ocean Hotel on the Promenade
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A seafront hotel remains closed almost 12 months after it was purchased by Blackpool Council to be transformed into an art-themed guesthouse.

Work has yet to get under way at the former Ocean Hotel on the Promenade a year after the council invested £203,000 in purchasing the building between Banks Street and Springfield Road.

Coun Tony Williams

Coun Tony Williams

It had been planned to lease the property to a community interest company set up by arts group LeftCoast at a rate of £10,000 a year, giving the council a 5.3 per cent annual yield on its investment.

The ground floor of the 22-bed hotel was set to be converted to an arts hub for use by the community, with the bedrooms due to be individually arts-themed.

It was expected to open last September.

Coun Tony Williams leader of the Conservatives on the council, today slammed the lack of progress.

He said: “I at first supported the idea of a residential arts hub but clearly things have again not gone to plan.

“Not only did the hotel fail to open last summer, as was stated in the report, it would also appear that no work at all has started on the property.

“The original agreed lease price was £10,000 per year which at best meant the council would need 20 years just to get their money back.

“However I presume that as things seem to have gone pear shaped the council is not receiving a penny in rent.

“If the rumours that the property is in a dangerous condition are true then it again shows this council have been extremely negligent in their survey and inspection of the property, and have again made another investment howler which could end up as a £200,000 loss to the people of Blackpool.”

Earlier this month a ruptured gas main sparked a fire at the North Shore Hotel next door.

Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “The plan for LeftCoast to turn the New Ocean Hotel into an Art Bed and Breakfast is still in place, which will renovate an empty, run-down building into a fantastic artist designed hotel for visitors and also a space for community arts and cultural activities to take place.

“The building has already been used to host artwork as part of last year’s LightPool festival and architectural designs for the new hotel are being drawn up at the moment. The project has already attracted interest from UK and international artists who are keen to exhibit when the renovation is completed, something we hope to start this summer, with a view to the hotel opening next year.”

LeftCoast was also due to put £200,000 of its own funding into the project.

Coun Campbell added: “Once the new hotel is up and running it will work as a commercial venture, bringing in money to the council that will repay the purchase cost.”