New owner plans to put Layton Institute back on the map

Amie Rutherford is the new owner of the Layton Institute
Amie Rutherford is the new owner of the Layton Institute
  • Under-threat Layton Institute gets new owner
  • Plans for new dance and entertainment hub
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The future of a historic Blackpool landmark has been secured after its new owner pledged “it’s safe now.”

Dance school owner Amie Rutherford has bought the Layton Institute and plans to return it to its former glory.

AVR Dance and Performing Arts school is based at the Layton Institute

AVR Dance and Performing Arts school is based at the Layton Institute

Last month Blackpool Council rushed in special powers to protect the building on Westcliffe Drive from any potential threat of demolition.

But Amie, who already runs AVR Dance and Performing Arts in the former first floor concert hall at the institute, now hopes it will once more become a key entertainment hub.

She said: “I had wanted a great venue for the dance school and the institute is perfect.

“I had had my eye on it for a while and now we have completed the purchase. It’s safe now and I want people to know it has been saved.

Now we know the building is not going to be demolished, or changed into a supermarket or something, we can make it into a real hub for the community.

“We have already invested in our studios upstairs and our intention is to keep investing back into the building until it is somewhere the community is proud of again.

“I want it to be a hub for Layton.

“Everybody has been so worried about the future of the building.”

The downstairs of the institute operates as the Layton Pub and will continue and be renovated eventually.

Gareth Urwin, director of the Layton Pub, said: “Now we know the building is not going to be demolished, or changed into a supermarket or something, we can make it into a real hub for the community.

“It’s about time someone bought the place and I think this will be good for the neighbourhood and help make Layton a better place to live.”

Layton ward councillor Martin Mitchell also welcomed the purchase.

He said: “It is good news someone is taking it over and has positive ambitions for the institute.

“It is an important landmark in Layton and this should be good for the whole area.”

The Blackpool and Fylde Children’s Pantomime, which Amie also runs, will also get a new base at the institute.

In 2012 the Layton Institute shut down for a short while and since then two planning applications to develop parts of the site have been turned down by the council.

In January the council agreed an article four direction on the property meaning any proposed development which might mean demolition would have to go before the planning committee.

In 2015, a bid by owner The Minotaur Group to use part of the ground floor for retail purposes was refused at a planning appeal.

Previous applications to build houses on the bowling green have also been thrown out.

The bowling green is not part of the sale.

Layton facts

The Layton Institute is locally listed and more than 100 years old.

It was made famous by Paul O’Grady’s creation Lily Savage when he filmed his Live from the Lilydrome TV show there in 1995.

It has also been graced by the likes of Joe Longthorne, the Nolans and Matt Munro.