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Town Hall Is Reprieved

Fylde Town Hall is ReprievedThe good news of the week is that St Annes Town hall looks to have been reprieved from the Commissar's bulldozer. His plan to demolish this fine old Porritt building and sell off the site angered many.

So just where on the road to Damascus did he see the light?,  what caused this change of heart?,  has he suddenly become a man of the people?, has he finally understood the importance of this architectural gem?

Sadly, the truth is probably more mundane. It is more likely that he can't now afford the grandiose scheme originally conceived between himself and Fylde's ill fated ex-Chief Executive. 

The main problem will be the Government's requirements on planning permission and affordable homes.

In order to re-develop the run-down inner-city labour-voting heartlands of Manchester and Liverpool, almost everywhere else in the north of England has a moratorium on house building - unless it is  what is now termed "Affordable Housing" (a politically correct euphemism for subsidised housing such as Council Housing).

Faced with the huge problems this decision caused, developers and Councils lobbied Government to change the planning moratorium. There was a sort of compromise, and new housing was allowed, provided at least 40% of it was "Affordable Housing"

Fylde did its sums when this was the case, and by selling off most of the civic assets, it could have raised enough cash to separate civic and administrative functions, and provide new buildings to complete the modernisation that no-one apart from the Commissar and his acolytes wanted.

However, in recent months, Government has changed the rules, and schemes now need to provide at least 60% affordable housing in order to qualify.

Building cheaper end property isn't going to bring Fylde the cash it needs (even with it's reserves of 4 million plus)  - ergo, no go.

There's probably another reason as well. Pretty much everyone in Fylde Council thinks they are doomed. (counterbalance is not really surprised at this - we've been saying it for some time ;-) but they mean doomed as in the sense of Fylde as a council and area will cease to exist in the near future (see WyldeFyre on the Cards Again), so there's not much point in getting all excited about new buildings and having a lot of mess and expenditure when you're going to be taken over or merged with another council anyway.

It could also have something to do with the fact that it is deeply unpopular with local people, and there might be an election in the not too distant future.

Maybe, we should be grateful for small mercies.

Dated: 22 March 2006

Update 19 May: Showing unbelievable nerve, Comisar Coombes sends out a newsletter with the headline "Conservatives have saved the Town Hall". Words fail.

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