Former Chorley village pub to become a house with cottages in its grounds

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An historic village pub in Chorley is to be converted into a house – with four cottages built on its car park.

The plans have been approved for what was once The Robin Hood pub in Mawdesley, which most recently operated as the “Mediterranean at Robin Hood” restaurant.

The man behind the proposed scheme told a meeting of Chorley Council’s planning committee that the site of the now defunct business, on Blue Stone Lane, had become “an eyesore”.

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The boarded-up "Mediterranean at Robin Hood" restaurant on Blue Stone Lane will be converted into a house (image via Chorley Council planning portal)The boarded-up "Mediterranean at Robin Hood" restaurant on Blue Stone Lane will be converted into a house (image via Chorley Council planning portal)
The boarded-up "Mediterranean at Robin Hood" restaurant on Blue Stone Lane will be converted into a house (image via Chorley Council planning portal)

Ian Balmforth said: “It is badly dilapidated and has suffered significant internal damage due to vandalism. It’s a failed business – it had six different leaseholders in the two years prior to its closure.

“We are retaining the existing building, along with the trees and hedgerows to Syd Brook Lane which screen the site,” said Mr. Balmforth, from applicant TRHM Ltd..

The meeting also heard from Syd Brook Lane resident Mark Glaister who described the building as “an awful-looking place” which he said was a blight on the entrance to the village – and had even attracted drug-dealing and fly-tipping.

The committee was brought to a stalemate over the plans when it first considered them last month, but members have since visited the greenbelt plot to see the site for themselves.

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As part of the proposal, extensions added to the 19th-century building over recent decades would be demolished.

Council planning officers had recommended that the application be given the go-ahead. They concluded that the proposal had cumulatively demonstrated the “very special circumstances” required in order to allow development in the greenbelt when it would otherwise be deemed inappropriate.

Papers presented to the committee noted that the overall impact on the greenbelt would be greater than the site in its current form.

However, committee members were also told that an alternative scenario posited by the applicant – involving the complete demolition of the main building – could be deemed compliant with a policy dictating the volume of building permitting on previously-developed greenbelt sites.

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Planning case officer Iain Crossland told members that although the former pub – which was originally a coach house – was not listed, it was nevertheless a “local landmark”.

Committee member Martin Boardman said he would be concerned if the council set a precedent for greenbelt development based on the benefit of preserving a building that has “little or no architectural merit, but has some historical context”.

However, planning services manager Adele Hayes said that officers were “not suggesting that the retention of the building is the determining factor in advancing very special circumstances” – but rather that it was one of several.

Access to the converted building will be taken directly from Blue Stone Lane, with the cottages accessed via a shared driveway connecting to Blue Stone Lane close to its junction with Syd Brook Lane.

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Highways bosses at Lancashire County Council considered that resultant changes to the junction would bring “significant road safety benefits, [because] manoeuvring of vehicles would become more conventional”.

The committee approved the application by a majority.

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