BLACKPOOL has missed out on a property boom sparking new calls for council chiefs to focus on making the resort a more desirable place to live – as well as a popular holiday destination.
High street bank Halifax today revealed house prices in seaside towns in England and Wales have soared by 128 per cent since 2001, with seven out of 10 towns seeing greater increases in property values than the rest of country.
But in the last few years house prices in Blackpool have fallen with the average home now costing £111,000.
Veronica Lester, negotiator and valuer at Reeds Rain, told The Gazette prices had dropped by 15 per cent in the last 10 years.
She said: “The council really needs to think about how to get people to settle down here because at the moment they are not.
“We have properties in Cleveleys with sea views but we can’t give them away despite the location.
“There is obviously a difference between homes in Cornwall and Blackpool, but we need to work on presentation.
“Lytham is the only place where property holds its value because it has a wonderful frontage, a Victorian feel and original fisherman’s cottages.”
Wadebridge in Cornwall has seen the biggest gains, with house prices more than tripling in the past 10 years, from an average of £100,406 to £370,902.
But in Blackpool Helen Wardle, sales negotiator at Farrell Heyworth said they were selling homes for at least 15 per cent below the asking price.
She added: “Blackpool does not sell itself enough, when people think of Blackpool they see tacky shops and bars but we need to push the redevelopment on a residential front.
“We have not seen the boom which other seaside towns have experienced and I think the council should think about that.
“It is not sustainable to rely on visitors and rental homes, we need to get families and young couples into the town.
“Sellers need to be more realistic as well, the credit crunch has knocked the confidence out of people and mortgages are hard to come by.”
Wyre councillor Ronald Shewan, who represents Rossall Ward, said: “The problem with Fleetwood and Blackpool is they both have high levels of deprivation and because of the low cost of houses, in particular in Fleetwood, they are targeted by social services to move disadvantaged people into the area.
“It is something we have brought up time after time because this then has a knock on affect - it exacerbates the problem as people don’t want to live in the same area.
“The other problem with Fleetwood is the lack of jobs, we have lost all our industry which increases deprivation and so we have nothing to draw people in.
“I had big hopes for the docks but the Associated British Ports (ABP) are hell bent on having it as a marina which will make them a wedge of money but doesn’t generate half as many jobs.
“When people live here they enjoy it, it is scenic by the sea and close to the Lake District and the Trough of Bowland but how do we get people here, it is hard.
“More could be done to market the town, we have to make the most of the regeneration on the seafront but more money needs to be invested into Fleetwood.
“Personally I can’t see things improving for at least the next few years but I would like to see more people settle here, especially younger people, it could be a lovely place to live.”
But despite the fears, Blackpool Council’s deputy leader councillor Fred Jackson said it was not realistic to compare Blackpool with seaside towns in areas such as Cornwall and Dorset.
He added: “We are not comparing like for like, it is a completely different ball game in other areas - we are a completely different type of resort.
“The council’s policy under our administration is to encourage Blackpool to become a town which is a better place to live as well as a great place to visit.
“We are a low wage area and therefore the ability for people living here to buy houses is sometimes curtailed by the fact people have got low incomes.
“It is all about getting the balance right, we need to promote our high quality housing by the sea, as well as providing affordable housing.”
Coun Tony Williams, deputy leader of the opposition on Blackpool Council, said a lot more needed to be done to get people to move to or stay on the Fylde coast.
He added: “The figures speak volumes, we obviously haven’t seen the same rise as other seaside towns.”