Former hotel is set to be demolished

Not viable: The Mill Hotel and restaurant in Croston, Chorley, has been closed for more than a year. Plans are in place to demolish it to make way for houses

Not viable: The Mill Hotel and restaurant in Croston, Chorley, has been closed for more than a year. Plans are in place to demolish it to make way for houses

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A once popular wedding venue looks set to be demolished to make way for new houses.

Plans have been put forward to pull down the former Mill Hotel and restaurant in Moor Road, Croston, and build seven houses on the green belt land.

Harrison Leisure UK, which also owns the Royal Umpire caravan park in Southport Road, Croston, has submitted an outline planning application to Chorley Council to establish if the land could be used for residential purposes.

The council’s planning officers have recommended that the scheme goes ahead.

A decision was set to be made by the planning committee towards the end of last year, but has been delayed.

Chair of the development control committee, Coun Steve Holgate, explained: “Because it is such a big application, there has been a lot of discussion between officers and the applicant as to what can and can’t go there.

“Some issues have to be ironed out before the application goes to the committee, so it was agreed that the decision deadline could be pushed back.

“It’s a very sensitive area, it’s a conservation area, so everything has to be absolutely right before a decision is made.”

The applicant argues that re-developing the green belt land should be allowed because ‘the character of the area is not one of open fields and no development’.

Planning documents state: “The fact remains that as a viable business, the hotel and restaurant has failed under two previous ownerships.

“Efforts to find another economic end user have been unsuccessful, hence the sale of the property at auction.

“Further efforts since then have lead to the conclusion that economically, the site is no longer viable as a hotel, as it is poorly located and of a standard that no longer meets modern requirements.

“Without the hotel, the rest of the premises are significantly too large for it to be considered as a stand-alone restaurant.”

It adds: “The premises have been closed now for over a year, and it would be a serious challenge for anyone to say that the loss to the local economy has been significant or even noticeable.

“In fact, the loss of a very nearby competitor has probably helped the adjacent Highfield public house.”

One resident has objected to the scheme, arguing that building houses there would result in a ‘major change in a settled rural community’, and that conversion to another business use such as an office would provide jobs and a balanced economy. They also raise concerns over traffic and say the development will add strain on local services.