‘Cafe plans are in tatters’

In limbo: Tom Shorrock outside the unit where he wanted to open a cafe
In limbo: Tom Shorrock outside the unit where he wanted to open a cafe

A Chorley businessman says he has given up on his plans to build a cafe in the town’s bus station after claims he’s been left in the dark.

Tom Shorrock, 63, ran a popular jacket potato stall on the market for three years before it was closed down after Chorley Council claimed it was unsightly.

He submitted an application for a cafe at the bus interchange on Chorley bypass last July to station owners Liberata, but says he heard nothing until receiving a letter in May explaining his request had expired and he would be required to submit another.

Now Mr Shorrock, of Arley Street, says he has abandoned his plans for the café.

He said: “It’s taken too long now. It takes four or five years to build a business up and by then I’ll be over 65, so I won’t be re-applying.

“The cafe would have gone where the glass-fronted side of the interchange is, looking onto Chapel Street. I had a business plan drawn up, I’d got the finance agreed with the bank, I already had the property and was going to put about £50,000 in.

“I never heard anything back after I’d sent the application in. I attended a council meeting and was told to have a word with the station manager, which I did. I had a look at it and that’s as far as it went.’”

The 47-seat cafe, to be named Tommy’s Spud Cafe, would have been located in the large vacant lot opposite the Queens pub on Chapel Street which previously housed a computer dealer’s.

“The building already has a licence to be run as a cafe, ensuring it does not need planning permission from Chorley Council, but anyone wishing to run a business on the site must go through a tendering process with Liberata.

Mr Shorrock maintains that the site would have been an ideal location for his business.

He said: “You’ve got the train station where there’s no cafe, and the traffic for that is quite busy nowadays, there’s the bus station which is quite busy, and all the people shopping in B&M Bargains across the road.”

A Liberata spokesman said: “At the time Mr Shorrock made the application we were not instructed to put it on the market. There was a proposal from Lancashire County Council for the use of the site.

“Earlier this year that project proposal was withdrawn for whatever reason and it was put out on the market. Mr Shorrock had the opportunity to re-tender along with everybody else.”

Chris Anslow, public transport development manager at LCC, said: “A tendering exercise has recently been completed to let one of the retail units at Chorley Interchange and we hope to have a new business in there soon. All applicants had to enter the formal process.”