Chorley flats plan is rejected amid claims of "low quality" housing

Councillors have pulled down the shutters on a bid to turn a shop in Chorley into apartments.

Members of Chorley Council’s planning committee said that the proposals - for the former Chorley Domestic Services store on Cunliffe Street - risked giving rise to “low quality” housing, because too many flats were planned for the space available.

M&S Project Development Limited wanted to create five apartments in its conversion of the unit, but after visiting the premises to see it for themselves, councillors rejected the application - against the advice of their own planning officers.

Committee member Alex Hilton said that the proposed layout could amount to the “over-intensification” of the property.

Councillors said a proposal to turn a Cunliffe Street retail unit into flats was not suitable

“It could result in low quality housing and I’m also concerned about the lack of [outdoor space] - it could potentially be detrimental to the living conditions of future occupants,” Cllr Hilton said.

Fellow member Martin Boardman criticised the idea of putting five flats in “a small building accessed through a number of staircases and doors off an alleyway”.

“We’ve got rooms [on the plans] labelled as ‘lounge, kitchen and bedroom’ and some rooms labelled as 'stores'. We all know what happens to these rooms as and when they get converted, they get used for purposes that aren’t really what they are designed for,” Cllr Boardman warned.

The proposal had been recommended for approval based on national planning policies encouraging the creation of housing on previously developed plots. The council's planning services manager Adele Hayes acknowledged that Chorley had not yet adopted separate national technical standards dealing with some of the concerns raised by the committee - and added that these may be incorporated into a new 'local plan' currently being drawn up for the whole of Central Lancashire.

The committee also heard concerns from a nearby resident who claimed that he would be unable to get in and out of his own front door when his new apartment-dwelling neighbours were accessing a proposed bin and bike storage area - and that his own car risked hampering their access to some of the flats.

“I have a right of way with a vehicle on a passageway [close to the shop premises] - and when my vehicle is there, none of the occupiers of four of the flats will be able to enter their properties,” Malcolm Beverley said.

Cllr Aaron Beavers suggested the situation had the potential to end up in “fisticuffs”.

The committee unanimously rejected the application.

Attempts were made to contact M&S Project Development Limited for a response to the decision.