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27/01/2022

Appeal: Inspector rejects demolition of former Woolworths in Blackpool

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A scheme to demolish a locally listed former Woolworths store in Blackpool and redevelop the site as a car park has been rejected after an inspector ruled that the scheme would visually harm the area.

LOCATION7-11 Bond Street, Blackpool FY4 1BQ
AUTHORITYBlackpool Borough Council
INSPECTORAlison Partington
PROCEDUREWritten representations
DECISIONDismissed
REFERENCEAPP/J2373/W/21/3278414

RH Management had appealed against the refusal by Blackpool Borough Council of its proposal to use the land as 40-space car park after demolishing the two-storey building.

Inspector Alison Partington said the building, featuring curved plate-glass windows and recessed entrances on the ground floor, was an “attractive example” of an early 20th century department store occupied by Woolworths on a corner plot within a retail centre. Its significance is derived mainly from these aesthetic, communal and historical attributes.

However, the building is in very poor condition, with a structural appraisal report showing it would require significant work to bring it back to a reusable condition. The appellant’s financial viability statement shows that the cost of demolishing the building is considerably less than its necessary works and as such is uneconomic to repair.

No interest had been shown by any retailers during the building’s marketing period, with the appellant’s agents stating that this reflects the sector’s contraction, with the building too large for modern retail use in this type of centre. Partington also noted that other shops in the vicinity are vacant or in a poor state of repair.

The only viable option is to demolish the building, she added. However, the open nature of the proposed use as a car park on a prominent corner, marked by two-storey buildings, would be contrary to the strong sense of enclosure that characterises the junction and the area more generally. Moreover, the large gap that would be created in the urban form, would have an adverse visual impact on the area. As such, it would impact negatively on the setting of other locally listed buildings.
The inspector said there is no evidence to show that a car park is the only viable use of the site, which could be developed in other ways more consistent with the area’s character.

The proposal would be contrary to local plan policies that require developments to have a high standard of design that responds to and enhances the area’s character and appearance, she added. The appeal was therefore dismissed.

The inspector’s decision – case reference 3278414 – can be read here.

Image credit | Shutterstock

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