Eyesore just weeks away from Â£1m revamp
Orient Building's stage one revamp nears completion
It has been an eyesore in the centre of Fleetwood for many years but now the prominent Orient Building is just a few weeks away from being totally revamped to the tune of £1 million.
Interior work has been underway at the red brick building, on the corner of Station Road and Copse Road, since late summer and will see it transformed it into accommodation for 30 students from Fleetwood Nautical Campus.
And the first signs of the work can now be seen, with new windows in place instead of the unsightly boards which have been an unwelcome feature of the town for so long.
Property developer Andrew Hayhurst, who waited six years for planning permission to convert the building into accommodation, was given the green light for the work back in February last year.
The project will see the creation of five units, with separate bedrooms and shared lounges, bathrooms and kitchens, being completed by April.
Despite the scheme slipping behind schedule due to an unexpected setback, Mr Hayhurst says the end is in sight for the scheme.
He said: “We have lost 20 weeks because it turns out I had to get planning consent for the new windows going in - it was more complicated than I expected. It entailed three applications and each one took nearly eight weeks.
“But it hasn’t been too bad – while we were waiting for that we have been able to get on with the interior work and now we’ve got the first set of windows in.
“The first block will certainly be finished in a couple of weeks and I expect the whole project to be complete by April. I’ll be very relieved to see it finished after all this time and it’s good to see the progress already made.”
Mr Hayhurst bought the building in 2008 for £178,000 but has been faced with several frustrating stumbling blocks as he tried to get permission to change the building from commercial to residential usage.
He added: “The only stipulation in place is we can’t put bedrooms on the ground floor because of flooding risks.
“This is a lovely building and it will not be an eyesore for much longer.”
The businessman expects to eventually recoup his huge financial outlay through the long-term rents on the building.
The Orient Building was once Fleetwood’s Custom House and was also once used as a trawler net factory.
Mr Hayhurst also owns the neighbouring Clifton Building on Siding Road, but there are no immediate plans for that building.