Town hall planners demand the restoration of historic Blackpool pub building

Gillespies pub (top left) and Champs Sports Bar
Gillespies pub (top left) and Champs Sports Bar
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The renovation of a historic Blackpool pub has been branded “cheap” by town hall planners who have demanded the art deco building is restored.

Ma Kelly’s put signs up and removed original windows without permission after taking over the former Gillespie’s pub on Topping Street.

The building – which is now operating as Champs Sports Bar – is part of the town centre conservation area and subject to tougher rules on what changes can be made.

A retrospective planning application for the retention of 21 signs at the bar resulted in only one sign being approved.

The rest must now be removed, although the applicant can appeal the decision.

Enforcement action is also being taken by the council in response to the removal of the original ground floor metal windows which have been replaced with standard white plastic frames.

In a document assessing the application, council planning officers describe the premises as an “art deco style faience tiled pub forming part of a cluster of similar buildings at the Church Street end of the street within the town centre conservation area.”

READ MORE: What is Art Deco?

The signs are branded “unsympathetic”, and are said to “appear cheap”.

Planners add: “The signs are also excessive in number, giving a cluttered and poor quality appearance to the building, which has two road frontages, and also to the wider area.

“The signs detract from the character and appearance of the building and detract from the town centre conservation area.”

Using delegated powers, planning officers imposed a split decision in regard to the signs, approving one sign but refusing permission for the rest.

Ma Kellys took over Gillespies in May and invested £250,000 in upgrading the premises including 32 plasma TVs, two snooker tables, pool tables and dart boards.

The premises had been closed for some time following the murder of mum-of-one Lisa Chadderton in a flat above the pub in November last year.

Her boyfriend Mark Tindill, 56, of Topping Street, pleaded guilty to her murder at Preston Crown Court in March. He was jailed for life with a minimum of 15 years.

The latest incident is not the first time Ma Kelly’s has fallen foul of planning regulations.

Last November, a judge ordered payouts totalling more than £400,000 after Ma Kelly’s South on Lytham Road, South Shore had traded without permission – for four years.

READ MORE: Blackpool's conservation policy for its historic buildings

He criticised the bosses of Ma Kelly’s South, on Lytham Road, South Shore, for a ‘flagrant and persistent disregard’ for planning laws.

It followed a three-year legal battle over repeated failures to comply with planning requirements, which included amending the frontage of the property and ensuring it was adequately sound and vibration-proofed.

In his sentencing remarks, Judge Philip Parry said: “Carrying out those required works would have been considerably cheaper than the ultimate cost of these legal proceedings.”

He called the case ‘a staggering and persistent refusal to do what was required’.

Paul Kelly, who was described as the ‘de facto runner’ of the business was ordered to pay back £225,000 of the cash he made while the bar was open in breach of its planning conditions –and told he faces being jailed if he fails to pay up.

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He was also fined £90,000 and ordered to pay costs of £21,080. Judge Parry was told the building, a former furniture store, was previously owned by Alveglen Properties Ltd.

The firm leased it to Kelly and his wife Paula, who wanted to turn it into a Ma Kelly’s venue, and in May 2013, planning permission was granted by the council subject to certain conditions.

However, it began trading without complying with those requirements, which were not fully complied with until October 2017.

No-one was available to comment at Ma Kelly’s.