Plans for former Fat Louis site in Skegness approved despite concerns

An artist's impression of the Grand Parade site.

An artist's impression of the Grand Parade site.

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Controversy continues to simmer over Skegness’ most famous “hole in the ground” - the site of the former Fat Louis leisure complex on Grand Parade.

At an East Lindsey planning meeting, the go-ahead was given for a renewed application to build a four-storey fun building to replace the structure that was destroyed in a fire six years ago.

But the debate was sometimes contentious, with one committee member, Coun Terry Knowles conjuring up an image of a catastrophe in the event of a 1953-type tidal surge.

He warned: “If revellers are dancing on a floor that is below sea level, that sounds to me like a death trap waiting to happen.”

No sooner had senior planner Chris Panton pointed out that the Environment Agency had raised no objection to the application than Coun Jim Swanson raised another concern - namely that tourism might be adversely affected during construction works.

But this brought a sharp response from Coun Dick Edginton who said visitors, as well as residents, would be only too delighted to see development at last taking place on what is acknowledged as a prime holiday location not just for Skegness but for the whole of East Lindsey.

“No one wants a resort that is moribund,” he declared. “People want too see something happening.

“How many impediments do we have to put in front of a proposal that will help regenerate Skegness and create much needed employment, in particular for young people?”

Coun Jill Makinson-Sanders also doubted if construction would create much inconvenience because pedestrians would simple be re-routed as already happens with other major developments - for instance, the ongoing construction of a new Zara store in London’s Oxford Street.

However, she was not entirely happy with design of the proposed building, claiming it failed to reflect the seaside setting. “I think the architect has missed a trick,” she declared.

Coun Robert Palmer disagreed, arguing that the design was “startlingly contemporary “ and would “lead Skegness into the future”.

In a bid to hasten the start of development, planners imposed a condition that it should start within a year - a breach from normal policy which allows three years.

Coun Phil Kemp argued this was unfair because any hitches might not necessarily be the fault of the applicant.

The committee heard that the building will incorporate dance floors, bars, cafes, an ice skating rink and a roller disco area. There might even be a “gentlemen’s club” - thought to be a polite term for a lapdancing venue.

Representing the applicant, Mr T. Singh, Tim Miller, of Hodkinsons solicitors, was upbeat about the benefits that the project would bring to Skegness, though he cautioned that there was an unresolved legal dispute with a neighbour over access arrangements.

Mr Singh was not present at the meeting.