Blackpool Christmas by the Sea in planning permission wrangle – because it doesn’t have any

“Businesses and residents are suffering and I think worse is to come”

A log cabin overlooked by the Star Flyer (Image: SkyShots-Karl Houghton)

Blackpool’s Christmas by the Sea event has landed in a planning permission wrangle – after it was found it doesn’t have any.

The winter village has now submitted proposals seeking formal approval for the attraction which was launched on Friday (November 18) by Strictly stars Neil Jones and Katya Jones. It has seen rides including the 260ft high Star Flyer returning to the Tower Festival Headland for the second year running.

Town hall bosses have denied the lack of planning approval is an oversight, and say the headland is already designated as an events space. Planning permission is being sought for use of the land as a Christmas market comprising stalls, rides and associated attractions for no more than 50 days between November and January for up to five years.

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The attraction is allowed to operate while the application is considered, with approval expected to be given. A council spokesperson said: “Last year the Christmas by the Sea event was held for the first time on the Tower Festival Headland.

“It was operated on a temporary basis in what is already a designated event space. At this point we did not know how popular it would be or if it would be repeated in future years. The event was a fantastic success and we were delighted to secure funding for it to return even bigger and better this year. As result we have formally applied for temporary planning permission.

“The planning application was awaiting a detailed site plan which has now been submitted. The application has been validated and the information supplied satisfies what has been requested by planners.”

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said: “Having a Christmas by the Sea is a great idea and popular with residents and visitors alike, but someone in the council who was organising this event hasn’t done their job properly.

“It’s also unclear as to whether the council are breaking their own rules by having rides on that side of the Promenade after they closed a temporary ride and other attractions a few years ago using a planning clause.

“All these issues should have been considered and dealt with last year. Administrational ‘sloppiness’ could have jeopardised this important seasonal event and prevented a lot of people from enjoying a seaside Christmas.”

The 2021 event ran from November 19 to January 3 featuring a skating rink which is also back this year, and resulted in a 75 per cent increase in footfall on the Promenade. The application is also seeking permission for a carousel, race o rama, Santa’s sleigh ride, candy cane bungee trampoline, Santa’s tea cups and 15 wooden chalets.

Documents submitted with the application say: “VisitBlackpool (Blackpool Council) are looking to secure the future of this important event by securing planning permission for temporary infrastructure relating to the Christmas by the Sea event between November and January for the next five years.”

The council has been involved in recent planning battles with private operators over rides on the Promenade. The Blackpool Pier Company lost its fight to retain a log flume alongside South Pier in 2019, while in 2015 an illegal funfair on the site of the former Tudor Rose Hotel on South Promenade was ordered to close down.

  • 05:40, 24 NOV 2022

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