Vegan eatery Whins Green Kitchen, in Wheelton, had applied for permission to open on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Currently, the Whins Lane venue - and the Contours Day Spa to which it is attached - must close at 7pm Monday to Saturday and 4pm on Sundays.
Chorley Council’s planning committee has now given the green light for the Friday and Saturday closure time to be pushed back to 11pm. However, councillors stopped short of granting permanent permission for the change - instead allowing the additional trading time only for the next 12 months, at which point it will be reassessed.
Members were told that there had never been any complaints about noise from the establishment, but planning case officer Iain Crossland said that the use of an outdoor seating area during any extended opening hours would have "some potential for noise generation from customers, while disturbance is also possible from vehicle movements into and out of the car park”.
As a result, he recommended that the application be approved - but with a condition preventing outdoor dining after 7pm. The playing of music within the building will also be prohibited.
Objecting to the application, Dermot Monaghan, the nearest resident - at around 30 metres away - said that his concern was not about disturbance from the venue itself, but that which could be caused by patrons parking on the road where it is based and then returning to their cars late at night.
“In the evening people, [will have] had a drink, so I expect there’d be a lot more noise than there is in the daytime,” he said.
Councillors were told that a noise assessment would not usually be requested for such an application, because any disturbance would be dependent on “the clientele” on any given day, rather than some constant level of noise which could be measured, such as music.
They also heard that there was no obligation on the venue to provide any additional off-street parking over and above the current level, because the change of hours did not amount to an increase in the capacity of the restaurant at any one time.
Committee member Alex Hilton said that while he was “mindful we need to support rural businesses”, he would rather see the extended hours introduced initially for a 12-month period in order to ensure that they did not cause “harm” to those living nearby.
Fellow member Martin Boardman said that although he had “sympathy” for residents, he believed that the business should be allowed to extend its hours with the confidence that the change could be implemented permanently.
A vote on amended motion to allow a temporary extension to the opening hours was tied - but committee chair June Molyneaux used her casting vote to support making the change time-limited.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting, David Pearson, executive chef at the venue, said that the extended hours were intended to help the business after a “tough last two years”. The restaurant part of the venture had opened in December 2019, just months before the first lockdown.
He added: “We are absolutely delighted. We employ mainly local staff and this decision will cement those jobs, especially in these tough times in the hospitality industry.
“Our goal in the restaurant is to change the perception of vegan food by veganising traditional dishes, without compromising on taste.”
Mr. Pearson said that the remote location of the venue meant that the change should not cause anybody any disturbance.
The longer opening hours will be applied only to the restaurant, not the spa, which has been established for over 30 years. Mr Pearson said he expected to start making use of the permission in the coming weeks.
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