Councillors raise a glass to post-pandemic drinking venture in Leyland

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A former clothes shop on the outskirts of Leyland town centre is set get a makeover after plans were approved to turn it into a drinking establishment.

Permission has been granted for the conversion of the currently vacant Baluga Boutique on Chapel Brow.

Members of South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee – meeting remotely for the first time because of lockdown restrictions – approved the change of use after hearing that previous proposals for an outdoor seating area at the venue had been scrapped, following concerns from environmental health officers.

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The upper floor of the building will remain reserved for retail activity only.

The site of a planned new drinking establishment in a former clothes shop in Leyland (Image: Google Streetview)The site of a planned new drinking establishment in a former clothes shop in Leyland (Image: Google Streetview)
The site of a planned new drinking establishment in a former clothes shop in Leyland (Image: Google Streetview)

The plans drew just two responses from the public – with one in favour and another against. An objector raised concerns that it was located opposite a “quiet street with no noise or trouble”, while a supporter described it as a “welcome addition” which would boost the evening economy.

Planning officer Steven Brown told the meeting that although the authority sought to protect retail premises, cafes and bars were considered suitable uses in order to maintain the “vitality and viability” of the area.

Committee member James Flannery not only supported the plans, but actively toasted the fact that they had still been brought forward in spite of the ongoing pandemic.

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“I think post-Covid-19, as part of our South Ribble recovery plan, it’s really encouraging to see small businesses be prepared to invest and plan beyond [the crisis]. We’re in challenging times and I just think it’s important that we take a wider view in terms of this type of venture and encourage it,” Cllr Flannery said.

The opening hours of the proposed licensed premises will be from midday until 11pm Sunday to Friday and midday until 12.30am on Saturdays. There are plans to serve cold food as well as alcohol.

Committee papers revealed that the venue is expected to employ two full-time and two full-time equivalent staff.

Highways bosses at Lancashire County Council did object to the proposal describing it as a sustainable location – although the committee heard that there are daytime parking restrictions in the area.

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South Ribble planning officers concluded that the conversion would “not detract from the character and appearance of the area”, because of the number of restaurants and takeaways in the vicinity.

They also felt that the location of the premises meant that it would “not have a detrimental impact” on nearby residential properties nor cause an undue loss of privacy.

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