A new ambulance station to serve the Fylde coast is a step closer after Blackpool Council granted planning permission for the scheme.
Town hall planners approved the application by North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) using their delegated powers.
It means the current outdated base on Waterloo Road in South Shore, which was built in 1980, will be demolished and replaced with a new three storey facility.
Artist’s impression of the new ambulance station
It is hoped to start work this autumn, with the new station taking around a year to build.
NWAS proposes to introduce a ‘hub and spoke’ structure which it says will modernise the service, but it will also mean the eventual closure of ambulance stations in Fleetwood, Thornton, Lytham and Wesham.
The new facility would employ 263 members of staff in addition to up to 15 training staff and students on a typical day, representing an increase of 116 on current staffing levels.
But shift systems mean they would not all be present on site at the same time.
A temporary station is due to be created on the site of the former Devonshire Road Hospital for use while the new base is under construction.
Planners noted “the current ambulance station is no longer fit for purpose, it has a very dated appearance and is in need of extensive renovations.”
In a report setting out their decision they added: “NWAS have decided due to the good road and transport links to the existing site this offers the best solution for the new ambulance station, which would provide a modern response base, patient transfer unit and Make Ready suite.
“Alternative sites were considered as part of their original business case, but were discounted due to cost, traffic congestion and size.”
A Make Ready suite is where ambulances are re-equipped and cleaned in preparation for attending call-outs.
The new station will act as the main Fylde hub, with crews elsewhere on the coast operating from ‘spoke’ sites such as health centres, fire stations and police stations.
The model has already been adopted in other parts of the region after it was found ambulances are rarely at their station when they are despatched on a call.