Swift Hound Pub Blackpool
The Swift Hound pub will be demolished to make way for the £7m project (image from Google)

Council set for U-turn over £7m Blackpool bingo hall

Blackpool Council looks set to approve plans to build a 25,000 sq ft bingo hall and a drive-thru restaurant at Festival Leisure Park, less than a month after the proposals first came to its planning committee with a recommendation to refuse.

Designed by architect Bowman Riley, the proposals are to demolish the existing Swift Hound pub and replace it with a bingo hall, due to be operated by Bingo 3000, and drive-thru restaurant, which does not yet have an occupier.

Other occupiers at Festival Leisure Park include an Odeon multiplex; Frankie & Benny’s; a Bannatyne’s fitness centre; and McDonalds.

The application by developer Cromwell Property Group was originally due to be discussed at a planning committee on 20 June with a recommendation for refusal, after planning officers considered the design of the bingo hall to be “unacceptable”.

However, following meetings with the applicant, a decision was deferred to allow for further work to the project’s design, and the proposals will now return to committee on 17 July, this time with a recommendation to approve.

Planners had raised issues over the project’s design ahead of the planning meeting in June, but the architect and developer have taken steps to reduce the bulk and massing of the building through using different materials and architectural detailing.

The existing pub is said to be “trading poorly” with a layout alleged to be “too large with excessive upper-floor accommodation”, and the tenant has said it would not wish to renew its lease.

A former BHS in Blackpool was also considered to house the proposed bingo hall, but was discounted as having an inappropriate layout due to a high number of columns; these would have cost the developer an additional £600,000 to remove.

As well as removing the columns, other local businesses and a council car park would have been forced to close temporarily, with compensation costs estimated at £1.5m.

These costs, coupled with the need to build an additional fire escape on the building, have made a move to the former BHS site unviable for the operator and developer.

Other sites put forward included the Layton Institute in Layton; the Empire Bingo Hall on Hawes Side Lane; the former Apollo bingo hall on Waterloo Road. Both the Layton Institute and the Apollo have been discounted on the basis of size, while the Empire Bingo Hall now has planning permission for a housing development.

Construction, planning, and fit-out costs for the Festival Leisure Park site are estimated at £6.8m.

With the addition of the bingo hall and drive-thru, the park is now set to host more than 100,000 sq ft of leisure space.

The professional team on the project also includes Indigo Planning and Bradbrook Consulting. The proposals are due to be discussed by Blackpool Council’s planning committee on 17 July.

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I believe the proposal is excellent for the site , I look forward to seeing the building being constructed and opening, great for the area.

By John Toolan

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