‘Access to traveller site will end my pub’

Glen Hutchinson, landlord of The Spinners At Cowling
Glen Hutchinson, landlord of The Spinners At Cowling
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A pub landlord fears for the future of his business after discovering the car park could become an access road for a gypsy and traveller site.

Cowling Farm, off Cowling Road, Chorley, looks set to be allocated as Chorley’s Council’s preferred option for a permanent site.

But Glen Hutchinson, who runs The Spinners At Cowling, is furious that his car park could be used to create an access road.

It was initially suggested that access could be from the southern end of the site, off Cowling Road/Weavers Brow.

But a report prepared for a special council meeting on Thursday states that while access to the traveller site “has yet to be finalised”, the “preferred” option would now be from Moorland Gate.

However, it has been revealed that another option being considered is using the pub’s car park.

The road would cost between £10,000 and £500,000, on top of the £480,000 estimated bill for developing Cowling Farm.

Glen said: “I won’t have a business if this goes ahead.

“How are people going to park on either side of the road on a bad bend to visit? They won’t have anywhere to park.

“We are number one on Trip Advisor in Chorley. We are probably one of the busiest destinations for food in Chorley at the minute. People are coming from miles and miles around.”

Concerns have also been raised about using Moorland Gate.

Steve Allen, director of FDC Holdings on Moorland Gate business park, believes several businesses could relocate if the travellers site is at Cowling Farm.

He said: “We have in the region of 100 buses and heavy goods vehicles on this site.

“It’s quite a lot coming in and out of this site everyday and it’s not a big road.”

The council must identify locations for a traveller site after a study showed there was a need for five permanent pitches.

They could be used by the family based on Hut Lane, Heath Charnock.

A consultation on the proposed sites had 315 responses. There were 100 relating to Cowling Farm, with 89 objecting, including a petition signed by 327 people. Concerns included road access, use of green belt land, and the impact on property prices and local businesses.

There were also responses about the consultation process, as properties neighbouring the sites were not notified.

The report describes “positive attributes” of Cowling Farm as including: owned by the council; access is “achievable”; accessible to services and facilities; and potential to meet needs of traveller community on Hut Lane.

The recommendation that Cowling Farm is allocated for the site will be discussed at 6.30pm on Thursday at Chorley Town Hall.

If approved, it will be sent to the inspector for the Chorley Local Plan 2012-26 before an examination hearing on September 23 and 24 at Chorley Town Hall.

However, Coun Mark Perks, leader of Chorley Conservatives, has already said his party will not support it.

He said: “In its current form we cannot support the recommendations being put before the council, as there are a number of issues which are of concern and we do not accept that the council should even be considering using public money to develop the preferred site.

“The report comes after a rather extensive long drawn out series of consultations on the Chorley Local Plan which began back in 2010.

“During the past four years the council has had adequate time to prepare the necessary information on suitable sites for the gypsy, travellers and show people, this it failed to do.”

Coun Alistair Bradley, council leader, said: “The process we are going through at the moment is just to demonstrate that access can be achieved at the site in principle. “There are several options, which include access through the pub car park, but the preferred option identified by the highways authority is off Moorland Gate.

“If this site is chosen then this level of detail regarding access will be picked up through a masterplanning process, in which all local people would be able to contribute their comments. We would make sure that there is no reduction in the number of parking spaces at the pub.”

“We’d like to thank everyone for taking part in the consultation - we’ve had hundreds of responses and these have all been analysed and the responses form part of the report for Thursday’s meeting.”

He added: “It appears somewhat opportunistic for Coun Perks to now raise concerns and issues with a process that has been dictated by his party’s government, was set out and commenced by the last Conservative administration of Chorley Council, and supported by his own group members and previous leadership in previous full council and council working group meetings.

“Perhaps he is merely stating his own long held if not stated beliefs, as opposed to the previous and more coherent policy of his own group.