Town hall approves bid for apartment block after long-running dispute

The property which will be knocked down for an apartment block
The property which will be knocked down for an apartment block

A long-running bid to build an apartment block has been signed off by the town hall, despite road safety fears.

The borough’s planning committee was split on the proposal for Chorley Road in Standish and a vote to refuse the application narrowly lost.

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A semi-detached bungalow at property 153 will now be replaced with a 2.5 to three storey block containing three apartments, with car parking to the front and rear.

Previous schemes to create apartments or houses on the site had either been refused by the planning committee or withdrawn by the applicant.

Several of those decisions had been upheld by inspectors after appeal, the committee heard.

But the current bid was a scaled down version, officers said, that had ‘addressed the issues’ previously raised relating to scale and highway safety.

However, much of the discussion centred on the access to the site and its proximity to a bend on Chorley Road, a busy A-road.

Proposing a motion to refuse the application, Coun John Hilton, whose Aspull, New Springs and Whelley ward includes the application site, said: “This has got a very long past history. I know the area very well and I know there have been accidents on that road; I use it on a daily basis.

“You can have all the alterations but it’s still a dangerous road.”

He added the development was also ‘far too high’ and would have a negative impact on residents on Rowton Rise, to the rear of the site.

The vote to refuse was defeated.

Members had earlier been informed by planning officers that the existing access point would be widened to allow two cars to pass each other, reducing the likelihood of vehicles having to stop on Chorley Road in order to access the site.

Highways officer Kenny Strode said decisions in the previous decade to refuse because of the ‘visibility splay’ on Chorley Road had been made using criteria that had now been superseded by new guidelines.

Ken Price, a resident speaking against the application, had told members: “The council has turned down four previous applications on grounds of highway safety and have been supported by the planning inspectorate on each occasion.”

He added: “If committee votes this through … you put yourself at odds with the government’s independent planning inspectorate.

“If you ignore the inspectorate’s advice you will be putting yourselves in an invidious position when a serious accident occurs.”

Mr Geoff Clark, speaking in favour, said: “It’s made out that the previous inspector’s decision has been ignored. This is incorrect because the starting point for this reduced application has been precisely to deal with the inspector’s conclusions.”

He added matters such as privacy, potential overbearing on adjacent properties and visibility at the access to Chorley Road had been dealt with as part of amendments to the scheme.

Several members highlighted they had to base their decision on official accident figures for the area – which officers said show that incidents are rare – rather than anecdotal reports.

A vote to approve the application was backed by six votes to three.