D-Day for Garstang community centre and 800 new homes which 'could change the face' of market town

Keyworker Homes unveil the proposed plans for the Garstang Community Centre and Council offices

Keyworker Homes unveil the proposed plans for the Garstang Community Centre and Council offices

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Planning decisions which will radically change the face of Garstang and district - as well as the town centre - look set to be agreed next week.

On the agenda for what is likely to be the most important Wyre planning committee meeting affecting the future of the rural district for decades, are schemes for 800 homes as well as the multi-million pound revamp and retail extension at Garstang's community centre.

Borough councillors are being urged to approve almost all the backlog of major new housing estates on the outskirts of Garstang, including the "Nateby New Town" proposal, Garstang Golf Club and Calder House Lane, Bowgreave.

The planning committee meeting on Wednesday, March 22, is also being urged to approve the proposal by Keyworker Homes to redevelop Garstang's former community centre / old council offices into flats along with a retail element extension - possibly a supermarket.

All the applications have been in the pipeline for months, some for more than a year but with decisions put on hold until now while Wyre planners sorted out issues linked to the drawing up of a blueprint local plan and the final version of a report on how the A6 would cope with an increase in traffic.

In total EIGHT of the nine applications, amounting to as many as 800 new homes for the area, look likely to be given the green light.

All the applications have been mired in controversy, facing opposition and concerns from town and parish councils as well as residents' groups about, in the case of the homes, the loss of greenbelt and agricultural land, and, in the case of Garstang community centre, the loss of a valuable community building and part of the High Street car park.

This week Wyre Council confirmed the decision dates for the nine outstanding applications would take place at a meeting of the planning committee at the Wyre Civic Centre in Poulton next Wednesday March 22.

A spokersperson said: “It is considered unlikely that the members will be able to get through the whole agenda in one meeting and therefore any undetermined applications will be deferred to the following meeting on April 5.”

The agenda, now available on the Wyre Council's website set out the nine applications, along with the recommendation to councillors

They are listed as:

1. 16/00550/FULMAJ Garstang Business and Community Centre, High Street, erection of three-storey building with retail floor space and 18 apartments PERMIT

2. 16/00241/OULMAJ, Nateby Crossing Lane, 269 homes PERMIT

3. 16/00230/OULMAJ, Lancaster New Road, Cabus 183 homes REFUSE

4. 16/00144/OUTMAJ, Daniel Fold Farm 66 homes PERMIT

5. 16/00625/OUTMAJ, Garstang Road, Barton 72 homes PERMIT

6. 16/00807/OUTMAJ, Shepherds Fm, Garstang Rd, Barton 34 homes PERMIT

7. 15/00891/OUTMAJ, Garstang Golf Club 95 homes PERMIT

8. 15/00420/OUTMAJ, Land at Garstang Road, Bowgreave, outline permission for residential development and associated infrastructure PERMIT

9. 15/00928/OUTMAJ, Calder House Lane 49 homes PERMIT

The contents of the now complete A6 corridor report suggests the A6 would have the capacity for up to 900 homes as long as various improvements are made along its route.

Earlier this week Garstang Town Council held an extraordinary meeting to determine their next move in opposing the council offices/community centre revamp plans.

It is understood the council agreed to hire the services of a planning consultant who will speak at next week's planning committee in an allocated slot for about three or four minutes.

The cost to Garstang council tax payers for his services could be around £1,000, though if the debate - as is likely - is extended to another meeting on April 5, the cost would be higher. (The town council was asked to agree to spending of up to £2,500 from its community projects budget for consultant’s fees).

Town mayor Coun Alan Cornthwaite is also thought likely to speak at the planning meeting, which starts at 2pm

The town council has already lodged details objections. Keyworker Homes' original plans were scaled down last year when proposed, freestanding apartment block mooted for the centre of High Street car park was removed from the proposal after public protests, including a rally in October 2015.

That change appears to have tempered some of the opposition, but concerns remain about the conversion / redevelopment / retail extension of the 104 year old red brick office.

The community centre is currently owned by Wyre Borough which had originally hoped to reap £1.6 million for the sale of the site to Keyworker. Asked if the scaling down of the plans meant that Wyre would now get less for the site once a final deal had been agreed, a council spokesman said: "This information is commercially sensitive, so confidential."

Wyre has previously stated that whatever money is raised on the sale of the building not all of it will be ploughed back into facilities in Garstang.

Various previous ideas for some kind of community buyout of the property have failed to get off the ground.