Green light for Duchy of Lancaster's £1m plus plan for new Community Hub including café, shop, Post Office and therapy rooms at "centre of the kingdom" in Dunsop Bridge in Bowland AONB

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The go-ahead has been given for an £1m plus development by the Duchy of Lancaster in the Forest of Bowland AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

Ribble Valley Borough Council has approved plans to redevelop the Old Garage site and neighbouring St George’s chapel and Puddleducks café/shop/PO at Dunsop Bridge, near Longridge, creating a new café, community shop, retail unit, Post Office and community spaces.

The village on the Duchy’s Whitewell estate is a popular local tourist destination renowned for its picturesque riverside location, its playground and Puddleducks café/take out. It previously gained fame for being at “the centre of the kingdom” when BT installed its 100,000th payphone there.

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A statement accompanying the planning application said the proposals for the site on Newton Road: “form part of a long term strategy of inward investment to help, support and sustain the rural community in and around Dunsop Bridge."

Puddleducks in Dunsop BridgePuddleducks in Dunsop Bridge
Puddleducks in Dunsop Bridge

It continued: "The aim is to provide an environment that encourages slow, sustainable growth in the area that benefits the local community without disrupting the unique character of the village."

Noting some two and a half years of “considered thinking” had gone into the proposals the statement said the Duchy was “trying to tread a fine line in balancing the needs and voices of the community and other stakeholders in the area and provide a building that fits comfortably and non-obtrusively into the village.”

A report prepared by Ribble Valley Council for councillors noted that the development site is in a prominent location in the heart of the village but the main garage buildings were “of limited architectural merit.”

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The large main garage building and an old corrugated iron building will be demolished and replaced by a new community hub building linked by a covered walkway to the chapel. St George’s is to be converted into community therapy rooms and a community library/workspace/meeting room.

The historic BT phone box which helped Dunsop Bridge gain fame as  "the centre of the Kingdom"The historic BT phone box which helped Dunsop Bridge gain fame as  "the centre of the Kingdom"
The historic BT phone box which helped Dunsop Bridge gain fame as "the centre of the Kingdom"

The existing Puddleducks and PO will be converted back into residential use. The existing PO and shop facilities will be retained to provide continuity of service until the new building is opened to the public.

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The council noted that: “a construction investment of over a million pounds ... may lead to an economic benefit anticipated to be in the region of £3m.”

It noted local construction and supply chain businesses would benefit and new community facilitites would create new jobs.

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A flat will be created in a rear extension to the two storey stone built community hub.The hub has been designed to replicate the appearance of a stone barn.

It is intended that a further 20 parking spaces will be created to the rear of the village’s exisiting public car park. Electric car charging and e-bike charing points and bike storage space will be provided.

The council said the plans included sufficient replacement landscaping to compensate for the loss of some trees and would not adversely impact the immediate landscaped area or the wider area.

The maion garage building is currently occupied by Ribble Valley E-bikes , whch also has premises in Clitheroe. Prior to the bike company opening its E-bike rental and sale premises the garage had been closed. Comment has been sought from Ribble Valley E-Bikes.

The council received three letters of objections but two were withdrawn or objections downgraded following amendments to proposals.

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