Plans to convert a stretch of derelict land on the Lincolnshire coast into a mobile lodge and luxury caravan sales site have been approved. The former Fun City site on North Parade in Skegness has been left empty for over a decade since the amusement park closed, and previous planning permission to transform the site into luxury apartments failed to attract a buyer.
At East Lindsey District Council’s planning committee on Thursday, councillors backed proposals by David Scott, which supporters said would revitalise the site. The application had been called in by Councillor Danny Brookes after council officers suggested limiting the permission to five years.
He argued that Skegness needed regeneration and the granting permission on a temporary basis would only reduce the potential for investment. “This proposal not only offers economic benefits, but also contributes positively to our community wellbeing in the tourism industry,” he told councillors.
Councillor Brookes argued that offering luxury new lodges and homes in Skegness would further stimulate the economy, leading to return visitors, more money being spent in the area, and environmental and eco-friendly improvements. “People are no longer happy to be in a tin-box type caravan; they want better quality accommodation,” he added.
He added that the applicants would be spending more than £100,000 just to bring the site back up to standard before the caravans themselves would be put on site. Andrew Clover, on behalf of the applicant, said previous bids to invest in high-quality accommodation on the site, such as a new hotel complex, failed due to a number of factors, including the construction of the nearby Travelodge.
“This is now becoming an eyesore,” he said. “We’ve seen activity being detrimental to the character and economic well-being of the area.”
He said the site would provide a high-quality holiday lodge showground and would see the applicants’ existing business increase sales from 150-200 caravans a year to around 300-400. He added the site would initially employ seven seasonal full-time staff.
“Despite benefiting from strong planning permissions, this site has not been sold in 12 years. The recent hotel developments have certainly been one of the reasons for this and will likely affect its sale in the future. Therefore, there is no guarantee that a developer will come forward if the showground’s use is stopped after five years.”
Skegness Town Council objected to the plans, saying it was “not appropriate for a foreshore location and is out of character and not in keeping with the area”.
However, there had also been 27 letters of support received from residents and neighbours, praising the site as an improvement. Councillor Neil Jones said the application was “very pragmatic” and praised officers on a “very good report”.
Meanwhile, Councillor Dick Edginton said that if the owner of the site got a better offer, they could change the use. “The site has been vacant for 10 or 11 years and it is, frankly, unsightly, and it does need to be put back into commercial use.”
Nine councillors voted in favour of approving the plans.