Having initially backed the proposals, the council has now asked the developer behind the town centre apartment scheme to justify its failure to meet one of the authority’s housing policies.
Daniel Berko’s development company Blackpool (Church Street) proposes demolishing the former Pizza Express unit on the corner of Church Street and Abingdon Street, and replacing it with a five-storey apartment block.
However, the plans were deferred last night after planning officers requested more information regarding the viability of the project in relation to the proposed housing mix.
A total of 19 flats are proposed, eight with one bedroom and 11 with two bedrooms.
This mix fails to comply with a council policy that states at least 70% of new homes should have two or more bedrooms. Under the current proposals, only 58% have two bedrooms.
The developer maintains that any change to the housing mix would render the scheme unviable, according to Susan Parker, planning officer at Blackpool Council.
However, the council is yet to receive a viability appraisal from Blackpool (Church Street), despite repeated requests.
“It is unclear on what basis an amalgamation of units is expected to unacceptably compromise viability,” Parker added.
The housing mix is not the only controversial element of the project, which, if approved, would result in the demolition of a recently opened restaurant.
The Vintro Lounge restaurant opened in June having signed a 15-year lease on the former Pizza Express unit.
A spokesperson for the restaurant told the Blackpool Gazette the building “certainly could not be demolished with us in occupation”.
“Even if plans are approved, they could not be implemented,” the spokesperson added.