Uncertainty over Penwortham sports club's future after new Mill development plans revealed

Work is underway to demolish the former Vernon Carus Mill off Factory Lane, PenworthamWork is underway to demolish the former Vernon Carus Mill off Factory Lane, Penwortham
Work is underway to demolish the former Vernon Carus Mill off Factory Lane, Penwortham
The housing trust behind a vision for 300 homes on the former Penwortham Mills site have declined to comment on a deal to secure the future of a nearby sports club.

Trafford Housing Trust – which deals with social housing, shared ownership schemes as well as houses for the open market – has submitted a ‘screening opinion’ ahead of a planning application for the site off Factory Lane after Bovis Homes pulled out, having secured permission for 385 homes in 2015.

The 2015 Bovis deal included passing ownership of the Vernon Carus Sports and Social Club to members of the Vernon Carus Sports Club, along with a sum of money, securing its future. There was also to be a new multi-use games area.

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But since Trafford Housing Trust acquired the site earlier this year, no details have emerged of whether the same agreement will be upheld.

Demolition work at Penwortham MillDemolition work at Penwortham Mill
Demolition work at Penwortham Mill

Nobody from the Trust or the club was available to comment on the situation this week when approached by the Post.

Penwortham County Councillor David Howarth said he was hopeful a development on the mill site would be good for the club.

He said: “Vernon Carus Sports and Social Club is down there and 300 homes nearby would likely generate a lot of business for them and help secure their future.”

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It is claimed the Trust's new proposals for the mill site –set to be formally submitted later this year – would be “less intensive” than those previously passed, over an area of 17.15 hectares, rather than 24.

A statement to South Ribble Council’s planning department shows there would be 17 five-bed detached houses, 21 four-bed detached houses, 40 four-bed semis, 88 three-bed semis, 36 two-bed semis, 11 terraced houses, 20 ‘cottage’ flats and 45 flats.

The key difference between the new application and Bovis’ is the removal of Phase 3, an area of approximately seven hectares including the main factory building and the land to the northern side of Factory Lane, which consists of recreational land. Although demolition and clearance work is ongoing to “prepare the site for future development”, it is not included in the current vision for the site.

A separate application for 26 dwellings is however to be submitted for the the Sumpter Horse pub site which was closed in 2017 to make way for a new road junction to the development from Leyland Road.

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Since then, work has been completed on the Cross Borough Link Road (CBLR), joining Penwortham to Walton-le-Dale.

The planning document says: “Current proposals no longer propose an access from Leyland Road and therefore the amount of new highway to be constructed over existing greenfield land is greatly reduced. The proposed junction arrangements are in accordance with Lancashire County Council Highways preferred position, ie that the predominant access to the site is from the CBLR.”

Bovis’ plans do not expire until Tuesday December 22, 2020. Bovis has declined to comment on why it has pulled out of the development.

Trafford Housing Trust expect demolition work to be completed by April 2020, and building work to start during summer 2020.

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The statement to South Ribble Council also states a children’s playspace will be built and there will be a “significant amount of public open space to the eastern and western boundaries of the site as well as either side of the reservoir”.

Penwortham Town Council is a statutory consultee on the plans, and is unable to comment.

All three councillors on for the Middleforth ward are also on the planning committee, and unable to comment.

Trafford Housing Trust declined to comment on their intentions for the site when approached by the Post.

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