Blackpool boost for new boutique hotel and Central Drive regeneration

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Schemes which missed out on Future High Street Funding are expected to be included in the bid

The former Post Office on Abingdon Street
The former Post Office on Abingdon Street

Blackpool will go ahead with a multi-million pound bid for funding from the Government’s £4.8bn Levelling Up fund after councillors agreed to proposals.

The council can bid for up to £20m and must submit its proposals by June 18.

Schemes which missed out on Future High Street Funding are expected to be included in the bid.

These include potentially seeking cash to support the transformation of the former Abingdon Street Post Office into a boutique hotel, and for the regeneration of Central Drive.

But questions have been raised about the viability of converting the former Post Office to a hotel – when five years on from the proposals being first mooted, they have failed to find a commercial backer.

Hotelier Ian White, who is also a director of StayBlackpool, said: “We want to see the old Post Office building brought back to life, however month after month we hear the town has too many bed spaces so the suggestion makes no sense.

“The property developer keeps trying to change the planning application but the market has shown little or no interest, so why should the public purse bail the project out?”

He said public money should be sought to support smaller businesses in the town.

He said: “The focus must change, yes big new hotels bring in money, but when times get hard the companies can simply walk away.

“However, the little b&bs and other independent accommodation have the life savings of families invested in them as well as their hearts and souls.

“The owners are dedicated to their business, this town, and the guests’ experience, so when the going gets tough they cannot simply walk away.

“Targeted support for the little independents to improve facilities and reduce bed spaces will go far further, last far longer, support more people, give more great guest experiences and the money will in general stay in town.”

Coun Mark Smith, cabinet member for business, enterprise and job creation, told a meeting of the executive: “Every time we have an opportunity to bid for funding to improve Blackpool, we do.

“We try to maximise the benefits and outcomes of doing that. We have a tight timeframe and have to work hard to achieve the goals and dates set out.”