South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee has given the go-ahead to the conversion of The Rose of Farington on Stanifield Lane.
Members were told that in spite of efforts to make the business a success, it has proved “financially unstable”. The authority’s planning officers recommended approval of the proposal, which a report to the committee said would “prevent the property from becoming vacant and, in time, open to vandalism and dereliction”.
The converted pub will house nine one-bedroomed and one two bedroomed flats, split across two floors. The work would include the demolition of a small structure to the rear of the building and the creation of a new two-storey extension.
However, there were concerns amongst some councillors and locals about how the revamped building will look - and the claimed potential for the plan to increase the risk of flooding in the area.
Farington East ward councillor Paul Wharton-Hardman said that the application was the first time in seven years that he had been moved to request a proposal in his ward be ‘called in’ for consideration by the planning committee when it was eligible to be decided by council officers.
He said that design was “not quite right” for the area and that a proposed floor-to-ceiling glass feature was not in-keeping with its setting.
Cllr Wharton-Hardman also pointed out that Lancashire County Council, as the lead local flood authority, had objected to the application on the basis that it had not been accompanied by “any information at all regarding surface water management”.
Bill Fairman, director of the adjoining Fairman’s accountancy firm, said that the cellars in both buildings were “prone to flooding” - and that he had previously been compensated by United Utilities for two major floods affecting the property.
Conditions attached to the permission by granted by South Ribble will require the submission of details of a "sustainable drainage scheme” before work can begin.
Planning case officer Debbie Roberts said that requesting a drainage plan in advance of the application being determined was not the norm, as the process is “expensive and time-consuming" for the applicant. She also said that the building had a built-in flood mitigation feature in the form of its cellar.
However, committee member Cllr Caroline Moon said that the later submission of a drainage strategy felt like a “watering down of the planning committee’s ability to make decisions” - and called for the matter to be deferred until full details had been provided. She added that the applicant could “do better” than the proposed design of the refurbished building.
Amongst ten objections from members of the public were concerns over the loss of the use of the car park for people visiting the wider area. But Jake Salisbury, the agent for the application, stated that the owner of the building could not be expected to provide that facility on a permanent basis.
On the external appearance of the proposed apartments, he added that Farington was made up of a “complete mix” of designs and that the applicant had worked hard to keep the materials to be used “sympathetic to the area”.
Mr. Fairman warned that loss of another community amenity - following the disappearance of a post office, newsagent and convenience store down the years - would leave Farington with “no soul to the area and can only increase the current incidence of antisocial behaviour”, an issue which was also highlighted in other objections.
However, committee member Cllr John Hesketh said that pubs like the Rose of Farington were “closing very fast” and that the proposed apartments would “provide much-needed homes” which would “blend in all right in the area”.
The application was approved by a majority of eight votes to four.
When the apartment plans first emerged late last year, a spokesperson for the pub said that the venue would remain open until the owner of the freehold of the site was ready to proceed with any planned development.