Chorley business refused planning permission for warehouse extension - but it can build one nearly as big anyway

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A plumbing business in Chorley has been refused permission for an extension to its warehouse - but planning rules mean it will still be able to expand the building.

Elite Plumbing and Heating Supplies asked Chorley Council to approve a side extension to its premises on Highfield Industrial Estate, the eaves of which would be 4.7m high. The borough’s planning committee refused because of the potential impact on nearby houses.

But the firm can now take advantage of “permitted development” rights for certain retail units, which mean it can erect an extension anyway - so long as the eaves of the roof do not exceed 4m.

The agent for the application, Chris Wheetman, told committee members that they should approve the extra height so that they could “control the development”.

“Under permitted rules, the building could be constructed from any material. But [if you grant] planning permission, you can dictate the materials yourselves - you have the opportunity, for instance, to ensure that the colour changes to something lighter from its current dark blue.

“This is an opportunity which I would urge you to take,” Mr. Wheetman added.

Members were told that the building’s close proximity to the back gardens of neighbouring properties on The Crescent meant that there was no opportunity for planting to screen the extension. But a report presented to councillors - who had visited the site - said the plan was in-keeping with the surrounding area.

Several members said they minded to approve the application, because the difference between what was being requested and what could be built without permission was so small.

Cllr Aaron Beaver said it would provide an opportunity to improve a “battered” building.

But fellow committee member Alistair Morwood warned against allowing an extension to a warehouse which was only “just about acceptable” to neighbouring properties in its current form.

“The best part of a metre more [than allowed for] would be overwhelming. At least at the moment, half of the building is screened by a huge tree which would be removed under this application. If you take that away, it would be a real shock [to nearby properties],” Cllr Morwood said.

The committee rejected the application by eight votes to six.