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Council considers £2m bid to bring vacant Morecambe building back to life

The Queens Hotel in Morecambe has been closed for several years and is up for sale

A bid for £2m of government cash could breathe new life into one of Morecambe's vacant buildings - with the Queens Hotel one of the options being looked at.

Morecambe Town Council is considering a bid for a grant through the government's Community Ownership Fund.

The £150m fund allows applicants to take ownership of assets - such as land or buildings - which are at risk of being lost to the community.

The Queens on Marine Road, a former hotel and night-spot which has been closed for several years and is up for sale, is one of the properties under discussion.

The former Lubin's cafe, also on Marine Road, is another.

Beyond Radio understands that councillors have put forward ideas for potential uses of a vacant Morecambe building - which include a new tourist information centre (following the closure of the Visitor Information Centre at the Platform in 2023) and community space which would be available to hire by members of the public.

Councillor Martin Bottoms, a Morecambe town councillor (pictured below), told Beyond Radio: "The Queens is one of the properties being looked at.

"It makes a lot of sense because it's a central location. 

"It has to be a building that we're going to bring back to life. The most important thing is that any initial outlay must be kept to a bare minimum, and we can't waste taxpayers' money on a project that's not going to come to fruition."

The Community Ownership Fund is one of the few pots of central government money available to which parish and town councils can apply directly.

Eligible projects can receive between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of total funding, up to a value of £2m, requiring comparatively little in the way of match-funding from applicants. 

Councillors agreed to 'investigate opportunities available' through the fund, during behind-closed-doors talks at the Morecambe Town Council meeting at the town hall last Thursday.

"The council believes it has a responsibility to look at ways of bringing external funding into Morecambe, including in this instance Government Levelling Up funding, to help support the town’s continued regeneration," said Councillor Geoff Knight, chair of Morecambe Town Council’s Planning and Regeneration Committee.

"The Community Ownership Fund presents such an opportunity, with the potential to bring one of our town’s vacant historic buildings back into use for the benefit of the community.

"Higher tier authorities are unable to make applications to the Community Ownership Fund. Therefore as a council, we feel it would be irresponsible not to explore this further."

The council said it will "now explore opportunities for repurposing a neglected local asset for community use before putting together its application".

They said the process will "include further community consultation in order to clarify community need, building upon the appetite of residents for investment in community facilities demonstrated in previous consultation exercises".

They said that if an eligible project is identified, a decision will still need to be made at a future meeting of the council about whether or not to proceed with any application. 

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