Last man standing Andrew Ratajczak is refusing to budge – after holding up a massive regeneration project for TWO years.
The 56-year-old cleaning company boss bought the property in Tyldesley Road as a long-term investment. Blackpool’s former guest houses were cheap options for aspiring landlords.
He paid £35,000 for the property and raised another £50,000 for refurbishment. Now Mr Ratajczak’s property, his lifetime investment, is also set to be flattened.
Blackpool Council has been battling for two years to complete the compulsory purchase of the property – the last piece in the jigsaw of a £50m housing development.
The Foxhall Village scheme, which will absorb Tyldesley Road, will provide 410 new houses and promises to regenerate a run down area of the resort.
But for Mr Ratajczak, the last man standing on Blackpool’s forgotten street, it’s a nightmare about to become reality.
He said: “Why do they have to do this?
“There was nothing wrong with the street. I bought this place to do it up, to regenerate Blackpool. Now they want to tear it down.
“I would have had a home, flats, a shop. What will be I be left with? What about the time, the money I’ve put in, they are not interested.”
While other home owners and hoteliers on Tydesley Road sold up, Mr Ratajczak stood firm.
And, despite his property standing alone on a demolition site – diggers behind his yard shaking foundations and rattling windows – he still refuses to budge, despite having been told to leave his home by today.
“It’s been stressful,” he said. “It’s making me ill.
“My doctor has told me to take a holiday because of the stress.
“I’ve booked one and now I’m being told if I go away when I come back they will have demolished my home. How is it fair?
“If I could I’d barricade myself in. I don’t know what to do, I don’t want to move.”
Mr Ratajczak is desperate to reach a compromise with Blackpool Council, which is purchasing the land for the next phase of the Hollinwood Homes development.
He said: “Why can’t they just build it around me? They’ve said it’s too expensive but is it really all about money?
“The process is wrong. It’s all geared towards them.
“I put my life savings into this. I’ve worked hard with my own hands.
“I’ve been left with buildings falling down either side, my own roof damaged and now they say they want me out.
“All that for somebody to make a profit.”
Mr Ratajczak submitted written evidence to a public inquiry in a bid to block the compulsory purchase order.
But his two-year stand was in vain, Blackpool Council went to public inquiry to secure a compulsory purchase order. That was granted in January and the council became formal owners of the building in September.
They have now given Mr Ratajczak until Monday to clear his home in an orderly manner.- making clear after that his belongings will be put in storage and the former guest house will be torn down.
For Mr Ratajczak it’s been a lonely battle.
He said: “I’ve been to ask about legal aid but I’m not homeless.
“I’ve been to solicitors but they have asked for thousands up front.
“It’s a confusing process, they’ve got all the experts on their side and I’ve just had myself.
“I just don’t know what I do now, I wish somebody would tell me.”
Mr Ratajczak has refused to allow Blackpool Council staff or surveyors into his property.
As a result he has never received a valuation meaning that although Blackpool Council now legally owns the building, he hasn’t been paid a penny.
Compensation will be decided but Blackpool Council has made clear Mr Ratajczak must accept its help.
‘We know people are keen for this work to start’
“To enable phase two of the Foxhall Village development to go ahead we have purchased more than 50 properties on Tyldesley Road, Rigby Road and Blundell Street.
“While this has largely been a straight forward process we understand that people do have an emotional attachment to their properties and we have done our best to help them.
“The use of Compulsory Purchase Order powers is the very last resort and has been used to ensure that the full extent of this transformational redevelopment can take place.
“We have informed Mr Ratajczak on numerous occasions that we would reimburse the costs of a solicitor and a surveyor to value his property but unfortunately he has not instructed either.
“The compulsory purchase has been through a very thorough process including a public inquiry where the merits of the Order and the proposed redevelopment were considered, including issues associated with the property in question. While the property has been infrequently used as a place to stay over the years, it is not a primary residence.
“Following the planning inspectorate’s decision to grant the CPO back in January, the Council became the legal owner of the property in September.
“It is vitally important that the remaining properties are demolished as soon as possible to allow the new homes to be built. We know that residents and businesses in the area are keen for this work to start as soon as possible.”