Businessman plans to invest in prom flats

Graham Cass plans to redevelope the former "The Office" building on central promenade.
Graham Cass plans to redevelope the former "The Office" building on central promenade.
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A derelict nightclub has been earmarked for a major renovation which could change the face of Morecambe town centre.

The former Office pole dancing bar on the seafront could be converted into swish flats overlooking the bay.

Hairdressing entrepreneur Graham Cass has bought the eyesore Office building, which has been empty and boarded up for six years. It was previously a pole dancing club and before that, the Whistling Oyster pub.

Mr Cass bought the premises from Mitchell’s Brewery and is planning eight new private apartments on the upper floors with a traditional barbers and shoe shining shop at street level.

“I did a similar thing with the old Conservative Club in Kendal, turning it into luxury apartments and sold them all for between £165,000 and £220,000,” said Mr Cass.

“There are two potential shop units underneath and I’d rent the other one out.”

Mr Cass will now seek planning permission for the scheme.

He set up the Jo and Cass hair and beauty chain with business partner Jo Ireland in 1996. Jo and Cass has salons in Morecambe, Lancaster, Preston and Kendal.

Mitchell’s had originally earmarked the site for a possible Eric Morecambe themed pub and museum, and had begun talks with Gary Morecambe, Eric’s son. But plans stalled when the economy crashed and Mitchell’s put the building up for sale.

There are several other projects planned for Morecambe town centre and the central prom in the near future.

The ex-Crystal T’s building, also formerly home to Oscar’s pub and Concorde squash club, has been bought by an as-yet unnamed investor.

A remodelling of Market Street by Lancaster City Council, including new road surfacing at the junction with Victoria Street and pedestrianisation of the Euston Road-Market Street junction, is expected to begin in 2014.

This will include new pavement surfaces and signs.

The Euston Road/Market Street junction could be renamed ‘Royalty Place’ as a nod to the former Royalty Theatre where Dame Thora Hird once trod the boards.

The Victoria pub on Victoria Street is currently being renovated into flats, with a possible shop unit on the ground floor.

Lancashire County Council has begun a public consultation into a new zebra crossing opposite the Midland Hotel.

Talks have also begun at Morecambe Town Council about installing a new string of lights on 5m high poles, to illuminate the promenade from the Battery to Happy Mount Park.

Discussions began at Thursday’s town council meeting at the town hall.

A member of the public said: “Morecambe needs something, anything, to help restore it to its former glory and this would be a step in the right direction.”