One of Fleetwood’s most controversial eyesores has finally been tidied up after long-running complaints.
The site of the former Fleetwood Pier had been left in an untidy state ever since the demolition of the pier building after a huge blaze there in September 2008.
Although Mike Simmons, who has a long-term lease on the site from owner Wyre Council, did clear up the fire-ravaged site after the demolition but twisted metal and rubble remaining.
And for nearly five years, it remained an eyesore.
But now the site, in a prime tourism area on Fleetwood’s much-loved seafront, has been transformed after Wyre worked with Mr Simmons to sort it out.
Wyre Council says it had the option of a legal enforcement to get Mr Simmons to tidy the site, but the council did not have to use it.
The clean-up been widely welcomed across Fleetwood.
Margaret Daniels, chairman of Fleetwood Civic Society, said: “We welcome this very much. We lobbied Wyre Council to get something done.
“It was very frustrating to see it left untidy for so long, but now it has been rectified.”
Lee Preston Stefani, arcade manager at the Harbour Lights Amusements, is part of the family who originally owned the pier.
He said: “You don’t want a lovely part of the seafront looking untidy for visitors or local people, so well done for sorting it out at last.”
A Wyre Council spokeswoman added: “We have worked with the leaseholder to get the site tidied up – it’s been cleared and levelled and a fence has been put up along with signage, vastly improving its appearance.”
And Coun Peter Gibson, leader of Wyre Council, said: “I have had a number of representations on behalf of people in Fleetwood to get this site tidied up.
“The council did approach the site leaseholder on a number of occasions, but it was taking longer to rectify than hoped.
“We had the enforcement order as back-up but happily we didn’t need to do that.
“Our enforcement officer spoke to the leaseholder and it has now reached a satisfactory conclusion.”
Mr Simmons was unavailable for comment.
In the wake of the shock blaze, the pier site has been in a state of limbo, with Mr Simmons’ ambitious plans for an ultra-modern 43-bed hotel being refused by planners at a packed meeting at the town’s Marine Hall in 2010.
Mr Simmons, working with consortium Simmo Developments, has since lodged revised plans for a smaller hotel and these have been with the council for more than a year.
However, Wyre Council is not able to say when these proposals will go before planners.
The hotel plans have not proved popular with the majority of Fleetwood folk, although a minority believe an attractive modern building on the seafront would be a welcome addition to Fleetwood.
Despite the decline in use of the 1950s pier in the years before the blaze, many residents felt the site should be used for a new entertainment complex.
Given the nostalgic associations with the pier itself and the site’s attractive seafront location, the fact it was left as an eyesore was a bone of contention with many residents.
Now it has been tidied and another community leader, Fleetwood and Cleveleys Lions president Stuart Gratrix, commented: “With all the work done at the Marine Gardens, it was bad for the town that the pier area looked a mess.
“It’s looking a hundred times better now.”