N-ice bid for former TVR factory

The former TVR factory on Bristol Avenue in Bispham.
The former TVR factory on Bristol Avenue in Bispham.
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BLACKPOOL’S historic former TVR factory could be set for a new lease of life as an ice rink.

Plans have been lodged with Blackpool Council to convert the disused warehouse on Bristol Avenue, Bispham, into two rinks with a mezzanine floor as a viewing platform.

The developer says there is no demand for an industrial use for the site which has been empty since the car maker closed in 2006 with the loss of around 250 jobs.

It is feared the factory, will remain redundant unless a different kind of use can be found. A number of small businesses have set up in some of the vacant units, but no tenant has been found for the main factory.

Preston-based architects Cassidy and Ashton has submitted designs on behalf of applicant A. Thompson, which also include offices, a skate shop, a dance studio and a cafe.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach said the applicant was not the park’s owner Amanda Thompson.

If it went ahead, the skating centre would create 30 new jobs.

A spokesman for Cassidy and Ashton said: “The aim is to convert the former TVR factory for use as an ice rink.

“The plans which have been submitted have been designed to make best use of the existing site and buildings. Very few changes would be made to the external appearance of the buildings.

“Aside from a new entrance and small ice store, the majority of the development would take place within the existing structures and most changes would be internal.

“New structures on site would be well below the height of those existing, as well as those on adjacent sites. Therefore the scale of development on site would remain largely unaltered.”

A design brief accompanying the application says it is proposed to house the main rink in the southern end of the existing building with a smaller studio rink along with an ancillary office, skate shop and cafe at the north end.

There would also be changing rooms, a dance studio, storage space and the mezzanine floor alongside the main rink.

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The report adds that despite being marketed since September 2008, no formal offers have been received to take over the site.

It says: “In view of the poor response rate from the marketing campaign, the agent concluded the former TVR site on Bristol Avenue in its existing form is unlikely to attract any suitable commercial tenants seeking large floors and as a consequence may remain virtually redundant.

“The works will ensure the site is in active usage and will result in the redevelopment and re-use of brownfield land within the urban area.”

The ice rink would be close to the Moor Park Leisure Centre and swimming pool.

Ingthorpe ward councillor Coun Kath Rowson said she would welcome the scheme.

She added: “Any new facility brought to the north of the town would be very welcome and it would fit in with the other leisure amenities on Bristol Avenue.

“I am all for anything better in the area.

“It would be nice to see the former TVR building fully used once more. There is nothing worse than a building falling to pieces, unused and unloved.”

A handful of small businesses are based in units on the site, and it is now known how they would be affected by the proposals.

But one businessman, who asked not to be named, said: “It would appear the owner wants to move the smaller businesses off the site rather than developing the site as it is.”

The proposals will now go to a future meeting of the council’s planning committee for a decision to be made.

Residents commenting on the planning application say they would welcome a full size rink which would enable young skaters to train close to home.

One described it as a “fabulous asset” while another said it would be “an excellent use of a currently unused site, which I am sure will be extremely well received and utilised by the local community.”

There are already two ice rinks on the Fylde coast - one at the Pleasure Beach, and the Sub Zero Ice Arena which opened in Cleveleys in 2011.

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