Cork city manager Tim Lucey said, despite limited resources, he and his officials are “totally committed” to tackling the problem which has blighted Blackpool in recent years.
Councillors were presented with a detailed report on the issue at this week’s council meeting. It was prepared following calls for an aggressive and coordinated assault on the problem during the adoption of the Blackpool Local Area Plan (LAP) in September.
Mr Lucey and senior planning officials met community leaders in the village last week to discuss the best approach.
And he told councillors that work will start immediately, in consultation with community leaders, as well as with certain owners of buildings and sites, to address the issue.
“Almost half the buildings identified could be fixed with a bit of painting. In total, there are about 15 that need significant upgrade,” he said. “It is a very attractive place for employers, especially in the valley area where there are huge opportunities.”
The report shows, when the LAP was being drafted earlier this year, 50 sites in Blackpool were identified as unsightly, in need of minor remedial works to facades, or vacant and in need of serious repair. The most recent survey, conducted last month, shows some improvement, with 35 sites, consisting of 33 buildings, one site and one gateway area, identified for further investigation. Half of these sites — 16 buildings and one gateway — are deemed visually unsightly and requiring some minor remedial works to bring them up to a required standard.
“However, it is recognised that there is a further group of around 15 buildings which will require significant upgrading to bring them to an acceptable condition,” the report said.
The village has now been divided into three sub-areas for special attention over the coming months.
The first area, Thomas Davis Street, Commons Road, Brocklesby Street, part of Great William O’Brien Street, Berwick Lane, and part of Watercourse Road will be targeted first. The second area, which includes most of Great William O’Brien Street and Gerald Griffin Street, and the third area, which includes Cathedral Walk and the rest of Watercourse Road, will be tackled in due course.
The council is considering a range of approaches, including working with building owners, running a grant scheme for minor repairs, as well as supporting temporary alternative community uses for vacant buildings.
Councillors welcomed the plan. Blackpool-born Labour councillor Denis O’Flynn said: “The village and its people have a rich and proud history. Hopefully, this new approach, led by the city manager, will restore the village to its former glory.”