Turning the tide - Lytham

PUBLISHED: 01:09 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:22 20 February 2013

Taking a break in Clifton Street

Taking a break in Clifton Street

Amanda Griffiths visits the seaside town of Lytham, one of Lancashire's most desirable places to live but one that's fighting to keep its character<br/>Photographs by Kirsty Thompson

LYTHAM. It's one of those places where many of us would love to live. We look longingly at the grand houses on the seafront overlooking the famous green and its brilliant white windmill and think...maybe one day!

Lytham repeatedly makes it onto those dubious lists of 'desirable places to live' and, not so long ago, it was placed third best in the world.

It's not surprising, then, that developers want to build more houses and apartments. And equally unsurprising that the proposed expansion is causing concern for many
already resident in this Fylde gem. There are proposals for more than 1,000 new homes at Queensway as well another 300 plus on Graving Dock Road.

Defend Lytham is a group made up of locals who want to highlight the impact new developments will have on the famous coastal town. 'We're not, as some would claim, anti-development,' says committee member Kerry Kelly, 'but we are anxious to ensure that the area evolves in a sustainable manner and with due regard to the quality of life of existing and future residents and for the enjoyment of those who visit.

'Current proposals threaten the local infrastructure, people are already struggling to enrol their children in the local school or get into a local dentist or doctor's surgery.

'They also ignore the fact that much of Fylde Borough lies within a flood plain and pay scant regard to the local built environment which defines the character and pleasant ambience of our town - one of the reasons it is so desirable.'

More people also means more traffic which will undoubtedly put even more pressure on town centre car parks, residents and shopkeepers alike are already complaining about the lack of places for shoppers to park. There are a couple of pay and display car parks in the centre, plus those on the green along the seafront, but at peak times including weekends bathed in beautiful sunshine and summer holidays, it can be a bit of a scrum to find a spot.

Defend Lytham came into existence in June 2005 to campaign against a development known as Lytham Quays, comprising almost 3,000 apartments. 'If the scheme had been successful, it would have changed the character of the town radically and irrevocably and would have placed unbearable demands on Lytham,' says Kerry.

'Our heritage and future quality of life cannot be restored once lost and, with the help of the people of Lytham St Annes, we will continue to attempt to safeguard them.'

'What's happening in Lytham is part of a wider government initiative for schemes like 'affordable housing,' says Edward Cook, press and marketing officer for Defend Lytham. 'We're aware that similar things are happening in other parts of the country and that we're not alone in these matters. But sometimes it feels like it.'

Although these issues are important Lytham remains a hugely attractive place. The fact that developers are chomping at the bit to build here is a glowing testament to its desirability.

So what is the attraction? There's a wealthy feel to the town, with high quality properties on the front. But when you take your time, winding your way around the side streets you're faced with lots of smaller cottages and terraced houses with immaculate and colourful gardens.

There are few other places in Lancashire with such an attractive mix of homes and shops in the town centre. The cottages are a reminder of the town's simple beginnings as a fishing village and would have been home to the fishermen and their families.

Just because Lytham is an old town doesn't mean that residents and businesses are old school. There are shops in Lytham town centre that have been there for years, and those who ply the traditional wares - butchers, bakers, fruit and veg - but there's also plenty of independent and contemporary places that sit comfortably with these older businesses.

The lure of Lytham's main shopping street lies in its lack of High Street names (apart from Boots, Woolworths and the banks) which you can find anywhere. In that respect it rivals Lancashire's bigger seaside gem, Southport.

Amid the established, there's a contemporary buzz about the choice of dining (and drinking) establishments. The Taps, a traditional style pub, is often mentioned as people's favourite place in Lytham, but its neighbours are Portofino and Chicory, two restaurants with a modern feel. In the last few years a number of trendy wine bars have sprung up as Lytham plays host to a younger market.

Lytham residents are clearly a house proud bunch, the streets and green are tidy and the beach doesn't show the scars that some other seaside resorts have to deal with.

A dedicated Heritage Centre is home to exhibitions about Lytham and the Civic Society has been active in funding and erecting a number of blue plaques in both Lytham and neighbouring St Annes.

The Civic Society is also trying to preserve the Edwardian courtroom housed in the old police station which has been sold at auction. There's not much known about the fate of the building at the moment but it's looking likely that a new bar or restaurant will spring up in the front of the building with apartments at the rear.

In short there's a lot of reasons that make Lytham such a desirable place to live and visit. The famous windmill must attract thousands of tourists each year; there's plenty of entertainment at Lowther Pavilion as well as the magnificent gardens to stroll through on a nice day.

Historic Lytham Hall is another draw. Everyone wants to see Lytham prosper and to continue as a good place to live and visit. But, hopefully, a way will be found to allow the town to develop without destroying the very thing that makes it so desirable.

Latest from the Lancashire Life