Update No 17

Posted on: Fri Oct 1 by Tom Barlow

Dear Guardians

We recently sent out details from the press release issued by HIP, this update deals with the details of that document.

Six Year Lease

Although there does not appear to be any progress, by HIP in relation to the submission of a planning application. This lease does, in effect take land which once belonged to the people of Blackpool and has gifted it to the developer.

How much have they paid for this land? Blackpool Council don’t want you to know, if you ask, they will tell you that this is commercially confidential information.

The recent press releases, set out the benefits of this development, later in this update we will separate the fact from the fiction. The only crumb of comfort here is that it would appear the development needs to be complete before the lease is extended to 175 years.

Consultations

HIPs press release states: –

“Prior to HIP submitting a planning application, there will be an extensive pre-application consultation on the plans where the public can view the proposals and provide feedback to the project team.” The public consultation will comprise resident notices to properties within the local area, meetings with local groups, a public exhibition, and a consultation website with an online survey.”

In response once the process gets underway BOGs will be putting up our own consultation/survey page on our website. We will also be distributing information to residents across a wide range of homes surrounding Stanley Park and beyond.

Greening Blackpool –

However, in what appears to be an act of utter hypocrisy, the planning department are undertaking a consultation on “Greening Blackpool” which closes on the 18th of October. This will form part of SPD (Supplementary Planning Document), which they will use when considering planning applications in future.

“The Greening Blackpool SPD provides direction on the importance for new development to fully consider landscaping and green infrastructure, including open space, sports and play facilities, amenity greenspace, public art, biodiversity and trees. Once adopted the document will be a material consideration when assessing relevant planning applications.”

As such this could be very relevant when and if HIP make an application, let’s make our voices heard, click on the link and have your say: –Greening Blackpool SPD Draft V5

What though, is the point of developing policy such as the Green and Blue Strategy which should have protected this land from development, only for it to be brushed aside.

Myth Busting

These are the Key Highlights which HIP say will benefit the people of Blackpool.

 21st Century redeveloped golf offering.

This is their current 21st century golf offering in Croydon, make up your own mind.

https://www.worldofgolf-uk.co.uk/dragon-quest-adventure-golf/

Flagship venue for David Lloyd’s new leisure venture, Adrenalin World.

Lots of talk, but little action, as yet Mr Lloyd has not managed to develop a single site. Also, he won’t get involved until such time as the site has been developed and even then, he will be a tenant of HIP. He is no longer involved in Lloyd Leisure Group and resigned as a director of UK Adventure Parks Ltd (UKAPLtd) in January 2018.

New holiday lodge development.

This development is well outside of what Blackpool Council consider to be the leisure offering within the town and is well away from any of the main attractions such as the Tower and Pleasure Beach. Also, Blackpool still has a significant number of hotels and B&B offerings with plenty of vacant rooms. Although this area is a great green space, the 250 lodges will detract from that space and its peaceful tranquillity.

Total of £45m GBP development.

HIP don’t appear to have funding of their own for this project. The money to fund this project will come from selling Bonds or from Investors, they do this through another company they run called LP Bonds PLC, formally known as Holmes Property Bonds PLC, then London Property Bonds PLC. However, this company’s account reporting is well overdue, with the last accounts posted in 2017, and there have been a number of strike off actions registered against LP Bonds and associated companies, which have since been discontinued, but a charge is recorded against this company by Independent Portfolio Managers Ltd, who appear to have a fixed charge over all properties acquired by the company in the future. Confused? You will be! This is the murky world of business property finance.

Improved accessibility to green space for Blackpool Residents.

Such nonsense, this is now private land, and the only access for the public will be if they are using the site and paying for the privilege.

In a town where 1 in ten of the residents is in receipt of benefits it’s not likely that they will be snapping up the tickets in order to get their green space fix each week.

Approximately 150 jobs created across the site.

All projects of this type trot out the job benefits, but often fail to mention those jobs which will be lost in the transition. The Labour leader was in town last week, talking about high tech jobs for the future, as we know leisure services jobs nearly always offer low pay and low skills, not really what Keer Starmer is proposing. 

Major tourist destination for Northwest England.

It’s more likely that the Central Drive Development will be more attractive option to visitors, as the Stanley Park development is a poorer duplication of this type of adventure offer. Blackpool-Central-Leisure-Development

Plan to capture the expected surge in UK based holidays in the future.

Blackpool’s decline from the sixties onwards was due to the advent of the foreign holiday market. That market is set to return and although staycation has been an enforced but really positive outcome of covid, families will still prefer sunshine vacations to bucket and spade breaks in the UK. Also, after years of low inflation the Bank of England is predicting that for a whole range of reasons inflation is due to climb in the coming months, years, shrinking the pound in the collective pay slip. The news is also reporting the significant increases in the costs to business, as such not just the built cost of this development but the running costs may double before a spade is put in the ground.

Who are UKPA (Blackpool) Ltd.

They are registered in companies house, incorporated in December 2019, shortly after the procurement process which appointed HIP as the successful bidder. The nature of their business is the buying and selling of their own real estate. There are two active directors, Michael Simmonds, and Martin Eberhardt.

The Registered office address is 85 Great Portland Street, London, England, W1W 7LT, an address they share with HIP. They posted accounts in December 2020, which show fixed assets of 153k, liabilities of 146k, capital and reserves 7.7k. so not exactly highflyers in the property market. Michael Simmonds is also a director of HIP along with James Robert Holmes. Malcolm Simmonds, Michael’s father is the manager of Stanley Park Golf Course (Blackpool) Ltd.

You may ask why if HIP won the contract, why don’t they just get on with it, why have they set up a number of other businesses with limited liability, well if you take the time to research any of these companies you will find they have very little in the way of business successes, for example with James Holmes it is nearly impossible to trace all the companies he is, or has been involved in, at the last count over 80.

You would think all of this would set the alarm bells ringing within Blackpool Council, but they are like rabbits in the headlights when it comes to HIP.

Blackpool Park Golf Club

We have been informed that without discussion or consultation the club have been informed that UKAP (Blackpool) Ltd are now their landlords. The club are taking legal advice to see if Blackpool Council are able to transfer the lease in this way.

The club is aware that HIP in their bid stated they would be taking over and developing the clubhouse. We understand that Blackpool Council are refusing to discuss the lease with the club, in turn HIP have refused to communicate with the club or its members. In the meantime, there is uncertainty over how many holes will be open for play next year, or what the green fees will be for the 2022 golf season.

Members and visitors alike are horrified at the potentially catastrophic loss of this historic 18-hole golf course. In truth, however, it is arguably, the loss of the clubhouse and all the benefits it provides, as a networking hub for both golfers, and social members from the local community, that would have the greater impact.

End