A brand new luxury shopping village could be coming to Lancashire.
Developers hope to bring a high end retail area showcasing leading fashion brands to a plot next to Botany Bay in Chorley.
Planning consultants hope the site will become a Lancashire version of the Bicester Village outlet mall in Oxfordshire, which has become the second most visited location in the UK by Chinese tourists, after Buckingham Palace, attracting 6.3m shoppers a year.
Brands at the new centre could include the likes of Armani, Prada and Vivienne Westwood.
Plans for the scheme also include pockets of land near junction eight of the M61 motorway to be used for housing, leisure and an employment park.
It means that 19th-century Botany Bay mill, which will be retained in the development, will get a makeover as part of the wider development project but keep its current product offering.
It’s just this traffic problem, it’s a big issue. Traffic from the Hartwood roundabout backs all down the motorway.
Planning consultant Victoria Hunter of How Planning says the build will bring hundreds of new jobs and a destination shopping village to town, which people will travel to from all over the UK.
She said: “We envisage it to be like a northern Bicester Village.”
Initial plans suggest that part of the residential site in Great Knowley owned by Drinkwater and Williamson will hold up to 100 homes with another residential plot owned by Landowners FI Real Estate Management bringing up to 188 homes.
Homes covering 11.9 hectares would include a mix of detached, semi-detached, mews and apartments with between two and five bedrooms.
Meanwhile the 6.8-hectare parcel of land in Gale Moss will be used as an employment area, namely for industry, storage and distribution companies.
Landowners FI Real Estate Management held a taster day for residents and neighbours to see the initial plans last Thursday.
The firm hopes to submit their proposals for outline planning consent to Chorley Council during the week commencing Monday, July 3.
The area where Botany Bay stands, and land to the east side of the canal, has long been earmarked for development under the Chorley Local Plan.
A steady stream of people turned up to the taster day at Botany Bay to discuss what the plans involve and give their feedback to the architects, highways professionals and planning consultants involved in the project.
“The results will be analysed and this will govern what we submit to the council,” said Helen Thomas of FI Real Estate Management.
Associate development director at FI Real Estate Management Mark Adams said: “We are really pleased that so many people from the local area took the time to come to the public consultation to talk to us about these plans and to enable our planning team to provide more in-depth information on individual concerns.
“The comments forms that they filled in as part of this exercise are now being analysed and will help us to fine tune the final planning application that will go to Chorley Council for consideration in early July.”
A resident of Great Knowley, who did not want to be named, said: “It wants to be developed, it’s scrubland.
“If they are going to do it sympathetically and make it attractive then go ahead.
“It’s just this traffic problem, it’s a big issue. Traffic from the Hartwood roundabout backs all down the motorway.
“Sometimes if you are coming off the M61 into Chorley you’re stuck on the slip road because of traffic.
“I’ve nothing against the development but it’s the traffic.”
The Botany Bay roundabout will be the main access route to the development with another access junction to the residential area.
Meanwhile the 8.7-hectare luxury shopping village would have about 70 units centred around a pedestrian street with a backdrop of cafes and restaurants making the most of the canal setting.
Planning boards stated the vision for the retail hub was to ‘attract visitors from all over the UK and beyond’.
It described the village as a ‘development of the highest quality aspiring to attract the highest end brands’.
But one Chorley resident was not convinced that the town could attract such tenants.
“Shops in Chorley town centre open and then close within days,” she said, questioning whether there was a desire for luxury retailers.
Louise Sheridan of Ellis Williams Architects said: “All the analysis suggests that there is an absolute demand for a Bicester in the North.”
Chairman of Chorley Traders Alliance Malcolm Allen, who owns record shop Malcolm’s Musicland, said: “It’s a concept from 30 years ago. At that time they took traders down to Bicester Village to have a look and the idea seemed alright. “It’s all in the detail but I would think we are in favour of it to be honest.
“If they are doing that and there would be a spin off for Chorley town centre it’s got to be good.
“It just depends on what stores come and whether there is any damage to the town centre.
“But on the whole if they can get the development its good for the area.”
Planning consultants are accepting comments and feedback for the next week. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone who was not able to attend the consultation can view the plans at www.howplanning.com/consultations/botany-bay-public-consultations.