Council backs £25m hotel development at Blackpool landmark

The developer behind the £25m project to transform a landmark Blackpool building into an upmarket hotel has welcomed the council’s decision to approve the scheme.

Members of Blackpool Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the project which will both save and refurbish the historic Abingdon Street post office.

Committee member Cllr Andrew Stansfield said: “It’s about time something did happen with this site.  We have had many applications in the past.  I do hope the developer’s as serious as this application looks, it gets on with the job and we get the building back to what it was.  If it carries on much longer we could lose one of our historic properties.”

Chair of the committee Cllr David Owen said: “We wish the developer well.  We hope it’s a success.  It will be nice to see people using that building again, which has been sadly forlorn for far too many years.”

Many of the Grade II building’s features will be retained as part of its transformation into a 148-room hotel.  The sorting office – which is separated from the post office by a courtyard – will also be part of the development.

Mark Ashall, director of Cheshire-based Ashall Projects, said the hotel - a property comprising both Indigo rooms and facilities and the Indigo Suites extended stay product - will be the first of its kind in the world.

“The classic Indigo rooms will cater for leisure and business guests coming to Blackpool for a short stay, or they might choose an Indigo Suite which will provide them with extra space and amenities, such as a kitchenette.  Guests staying longer at the hotel might also prefer a suite.”

“We believe this will attract a wide range of visitors and at the same time enhance a key part of the town centre,” said Mr Ashall.  The Abingdon Street post office is 111-years-old and served its last customers in 2007.

“It’s very sad to see it in such a bad state.  We will not only stop its decline but also create a new landmark for Blackpool,” he added.

Ashall Projects won a national award for its work in Liverpool where it transformed the former Royal Insurance building - described by a national newspaper as a “dilapidated gem” – into a very popular and successful boutique hotel.

“There are many similarities between our work in Liverpool and what we plan to do in Blackpool,” said Mr Ashall. 

“The building there had been derelict for 20 years and was in such a poor condition that it had been placed on the National Buildings at Risk register.  That’s hard to believe when you look at it now.”

As well as the backing from Blackpool Council, the Abingdon Street proposal has also been supported by the town’s civic trust.

Its chair Joan Humble who, as MP for Blackpool North and Fleetwood campaigned against the post office’s closure in 2007, said: “It is vital this building is saved. It is an important and much-loved landmark.  There have been false dawns before, but having met the team behind this plan, we believe it will deliver.”