Drug users seen hanging around old church site, warns councillor

Closed Church of Ascension in Watling Street Road, Ribbleton
Closed Church of Ascension in Watling Street Road, Ribbleton
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A derelict church looks set to be torn down to make way for a development of affordable homes.

Preston Council’s planning committee gave the nod to plans for 30 homes, which are due to be formally agreed by the city planning officer.

The former Church of Ascension on Watling Street Road is now set to be demolished, and replaced with 21 one-bedroomed flats in a three-storey building, two two-bedroomed bungalows and seven two-bedroomed houses.

The plans were lodged by joint applicants Galliford Try Partnerships and Chorley Community Housing, and building is expected to begin before the end of March to meet the requirements of the Homes and Communities Agency, who are providing grant funding.

Coun John Browne, who represents Brookfield ward, said: “I’m very happy that this corner of my ward is going to be a better place if this permission goes through. At the back there we have had a constant stream of drug users and sex workers, it’s been awful.”

He said the church and the police had worked hard to keep the building secure, but added: “It can’t carry on like this, the church has been deconsecrated. We are short of two-bedroomed properties, but we are also short of one-bedroomed houses and I recommend it to you.”

The development was recommended for approval by planning officers, but the meeting was told the publicity period for the application runs until February 9. It was therefore agreed to delegate authority to the city planning officer to approve the scheme with conditions after the final date.