Members of Chorley Council’s planning committee rejected proposals for a Starbucks branch on the A6, Preston Road, over concerns that it would increase the volume of traffic using residential streets in the area.
However, the company behind the plans – the Blackburn-based EG Group – appealed against the decision and a planning inspector subsequently overturned the refusal late last year.
That ruling cleared the way for the work that is now starting on the prominent plot, which has lain derelict for almost two decades.
The site – at the junction with Chorley Hall Road, on the outbound side of the A6 – was once occupied by discount retailer Kwik Save, but its most recent use back in the 2000s was as a petrol station.
The drive-thru facility will be accessed from Preston Road, with vehicles exiting onto Chorley Hall Road. It was that aspect of the plan to which councillors objected after hearing from locals who said that the design was likely to encourage drivers to leave the area via narrow local roads, rather than waiting to turn back onto Preston Road from the side street.
Planning inspector Sarah Manchester acknowledged that some motorists were likely to use routes including Highfield Road South instead of attempting to get back onto the A6 “at busy times of day”.
However, she concluded that there was “little evidence that a relatively small increase in the number of vehicles using the residential roads would be detrimental to the safe operation of the highway”.
Residents had warned that the 20mph limit on the estate was already widely “disregarded”, while the committee questioned why the Starbucks plan did not simply reinstate the separate entrances and exits onto Preston Road that had been in operation when the site functioned as a petrol station. But Lancashire County Council highways officials did not object to the proposed layout and Chorley Council’s own planning officers had recommended that the development be approved.
The new coffee outlet will be permitted to open from 7am until 10pm Monday to Saturday and between 8am until 10pm on Sundays. A condition has been imposed requiring bollards to be placed across the access points half an hour after closing until half an hour before opening in order to prevent unauthorised use of the car park.
Twenty parking spaces will be available at the front of the building, but the applicant expects only half of those to be filled even during peak trading.
It is also forecast that during the busiest hour of the day, there will be 48 two-way trips to and from the site – but these are predicted largely to involve vehicles that would already have been passing by, rather than those making a special journey.
Pedestrians will be able to access the site from three different points, while cycle storage will also be available.
A total of 25 households had lodged objections to the plans, with concerns also including potential noise disturbance and anti-social behaviour. However, Ms. Manchester said that any noise from the development would not exceed the background sound generated by the busy main road.
The EG Group – which took over Asda back in 2020 – is the largest Starbucks franchisee in the UK, operating more than 140 outlets.
Alex Kenwright, development projects director at EG Group, said of the start of construction work on its forthcoming Preston Road branch: “Throughout the process, we have always maintained that the proposed Starbucks development did not contradict any planning guidelines and was actually beneficial to the local area from a welfare of motorists perspective to creating much needed local employment. We thank everybody who has supported us with realising this Starbucks development following a review by an appointed inquiry inspector.”