Family answer concerns over 'Mini Ribby Hall' plans for Whitestake
The family behind plans to redevelop a former Whitestake nursery site into a "mini Ribby Hall" say upsetting their neighbours "is the last thing we want to do".
Brothers Paul and Richard Kenworthy, alongside their father John, have submitted plans to turn the six-hectare Turbary House Nursery site off Chainhouse Lane, into an area where there would be a petting farm, laser clay pigeon shooting, bazooka balls, mini jeep off-roading, as well as a 27-pitch touring caravan site and caravan storage.
The Kenworthy's say the development would create around 10 jobs and would boost the local area, but nearby residents have objected, citing noise and light concerns, as well as the over development of Green Belt land.
Currently, the site to the side and rear of Duxbury's Home and Garden Centre is used for storing caravans, fairground rides, and for greenhousing.
Permission for this was granted in 2018 because the use of the land had been ongoing for more than 10 years.
The proposal is to increase caravan storage from 80 vehicles to 130 in a centralised location, with recreational uses on vacant fields to the eastern side of the plot, and a caravan site to the north west of the site, which is currently used for storage.
The front of the existing main building on site will be changed to provide a reception area and convenience shop to serve the various uses of the site, along with maintaining some business use. It is currently used by a lawnmower service and sales company, a bulb company, and to store landscaping equipment.
Provision of 100 car parking spaces is included in the proposal.
Father-of-two, Paul Kenworthy said he has always been keen to move into the leisure industry, and saw an opportunity for the site after the nursery business declined.
He said: "We've changed our plans so many times, so not to upset people. We even thought about going fully commercial on the site, but didn't feel it was right for the area.
"Rather than let the site deteriorate and get worse, we want to make it something good that will improve the area.
"The last thing we want to do is upset any of our neighbours.
"We grew up here, we are part of the community and we think this will benefit the community. We will tidy up the mess, get everything in order, create jobs, and bring people into the area. Other businesses like restaurants and cafes will benefit.
"I also think it will be really good for families and groups of people. Currently there is nothing to do around here, it's boring when you're growing up. This could help people discover a new hobby and keep kids from hanging around the streets".
But nearby residents claim there would be significant noise and light disturbance, say it would constitute over-development of greenfield land, and question whether the recreational use is being used to hide the industrialisation of the site
A resident of Newgate Lane, who asked to be anonymous, said: "That area is a green corridor of great ecological value. This would be over-development of a greenfield site.
"And why does Mr Kenworthy want to tarmac so much of it? Why do you need tarmac to put caravans in fields, and for the recreational activities he's talking about?"
They added: "The whole thing raises the issue of noise and light disturbance. Will the caravan site be flood lit? For touring caravans, people are coming and going all the time, then there's the sewage, the office building, the laundry.
"You have to also wonder why he wants to put that site next to an industrial area and not next to the recreational amenities. Why would anyone want to stay in that area?
"And as for the recreation uses, there is very little detail in his application.
"Laser clay pigeon shooting creates noise. It's like having your TV or radio on full blast to hear the sound of a shot. Then there will be 12 of them going off for 45 minute periods. That's a lot of noise for residents, and what about the animals at the petting farm?
"No animals like short, sharp, unexpected noises."
She added: "It's time that the council took back control .This is Green Belt, we don't want it turning into an industrial site."
Mr Paul Kenworthy said: "This is not a quiet countryside area. This whole area is worked by farmers and people with nurseries, and there are noisy pieces of machinery running all the time.
"And the land where the caravans would be stored and where the touring pitches would be isn't a pretty meadow. It's a mess. I don't think people realise that this is already a developed site."
He added: "The noise of the laser clay pigeon shooting is like having your TV on. I could walk 50m away and not hear it. But if it was a problem, we could turn it down or even off.
"And the mini jeeps, they run on lawnmower engines that are muffled by casing. There's lawnmowers that run here all day anyway. And since the application was made, we've been looking at battery-powered ride-ons.
"The noise will be less than what it is now, because we will be moving it away from people's homes. And we have had to account for a worst-case scenario in planning. We might not even do the mini trucks.
"And the lighting won't be a problem. There isn't going to be big floodlights because people in caravans want to sleep too."
The family is looking to attract interest from people wanting to run a petting farm on the site, with animals such as llamas, alpacas, sheep, goats and rabbits.
They say they want to add to the offering of the bird sanctuary and fishery already on the wider site, which they lease to other businesses.
Mr Kenworthy said: "Why would we want to jeopardise the sanctuary or the fishery, when we also own that land? We see those as a focal point for everything else."
The plans are expected to be heard by South Ribble Council by the end of the year. If they are approved, the family want to start development work in January.