'Dangerous and inappropriate': Chorley village restaurant shuts to make way for new homes
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The Little Tiger, on Bolton Road in Abbey Village, served its final meal earlier this month and just days later, members of Chorley Council’s planning committee gave the go-ahead for a residential development on the plot.
The operator of the venue is planning to relocate the business and posted a message of thanks to its customers on social media when it first announced the impending closure of the current premises last month.
As the restaurant shut its doors, it also announced that it had been awarded a TripAdvisor “Travellers’ Choice” award for the second year running, having only opened in 2020.
The stone-faced building is now set to be converted into one three-bedroomed and two two-bedroomed apartments, spread across three floors.
Extensions to the rear of the property will be demolished and six new homes created - one semi-detached house and four detached dwellings.
The committee had originally deferred on a decision over whether to approve the plans - by Roxford Homes - when it first considered them last month. That was to allow members to visit the site to see for themselves some of the concerns raised in 33 objections to the application - many of which centred around its potential impact on the roads.
One objector, Mike Matulewicz, told the meeting at which the proposed estate was discussed that it was “inappropriate…unnecessary… and dangerous for the village”.
“We remain unconvinced that the entrance to and from the A675 [Bolton Road] is adequate for such development. We are convinced, however, that the development will inevitably lead to more cars parked on the main road through the village - especially at times of football matches and school events - as the [restaurant] car park will no longer exist.
“It will not be a question of if, but when someone will be seriously hurt or killed.”
Lancashire County Council highways officials withdrew a previous objection to the proposal after the applicants made a series of changes to the design of the scheme, including the creation of a wider access point.
Chris Betteridge, the agent for the application, said that the transport assessment accompanying the plans suggested that there would be just four traffic movements generated by the development in each of the morning and early evening weekday peak hours - a forecast which he said was “uncontested by any alternative evidence”. .
He added: “Bolton Road is a 30mph road which benefits from average speed cameras. The proposal delivers the necessary visibility in both directions…and clearly demonstrates the provision of a safe means of access for full visibility.
“The parking standards are achieved on the site and, as a result, there is no suggestion that any additional parking on Bolton Road will be created as a result of this development.
“There is no evidence to suggest that the application proposal will have a negative impact on highway safety.”
Committee member Martin Boardman outlined his own concerns over the roads and bemoaned what he described as a “woefully inadequate” highways report by the county council - adding that there was little that he and his colleagues could do to block the plans.
He noted that on the committee's visit to the site he had counted three occasions in the space of ten minutes when wagons had had to stop to allow other vehicles to pass, because of parking issues on Bolton Road.
“We observed…parking half on and half off the pavement…on both sides of entrance and opposite to the entrance, which restricted the flow of traffic significantly. And that is a busy road [which] quarry traffic uses…a lot.
“I think it’s a real shame that the village is losing what they’re using as a car park, but it isn't theirs to use at the moment.,” added Cllr Boardman.
Committee member Harold Heaton questioned whether double yellow lines could be placed on Bolton Road close to the entrance to the new development, but planning services manager Adele Hayes said that such a stipulation could not be included as a planning condition, as it would require the separate process of a creating a traffic regulation order which may or may not be approved
However, she said that there were clearly issues with “illegal…and inconsiderate parking” in the vicinity and told the committee that the authority would pursue the matter with both the county council and Lancashire Police.
Chorley North East ward councillor Margaret France said that The Little Tiger had been one of just two places in the village where people could meet socially.
She added that for residents of the new properties, it would be a two-and-a-half-mile walk to the nearest shop if they went via a public footpath across local fields - but twice that distance if they stuck to the roads.
Committee member Gordon France said that he felt the relationship of the new homes with nearby properties would be “out of proportion”.
However, councillors heard that the development was considered by planning officers to be acceptable for the conservation area within which it sits. Although the village is not intended to be an area for housing growth in Chorley, the new estate is deemed sufficiently “small-scale” to accord with the borough’s local plan.
The application was approved by a majority of ten votes to two, with Cllr Boardman abstaining and Cllr Gordon France voting against.