Shop centre shown green light

Carrington Centre, Eccleston
Carrington Centre, Eccleston
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Plans to replace an historic mill with a shopping centre and houses have been given the go-ahead.

The plans by Northern Trust to demolish the Carrington Centre in Eccleston and build shops, offices and a supermarket were initially refused by Chorley Council.

But the developers, which also wants to build up to 40 houses on fields behind the centre, appealed the decision, and the case was taken to a public inquiry.

Now, the ambitious proposals have been approved by a planning inspector.

Northern Trust said any empty units will be hopefully be filled once the redevelopment is complete.

A spokesman for the company said: “The plans put forward represent a major investment into the future of Eccleston and the wider borough, despite the difficult economic times.

“The delay added uncertainty for the businesses at the Carrington Centre and during the intervening period some of these businesses have unfortunately decided to relocate out of the village.

“However, following the positive outcome of the appeal negotiations, (the units) will be resurrected with potential occupiers and we hope to submit a detailed planning application in the near future.”

Residents in Eccleston strongly opposed to the housing part of the scheme, and set up a campaign group called EC3 to fight the proposals. They were left to battle Northern Trust at the appeal hearing after the council announced it would not be defending its own decision to refuse the plans.

Martin Fisher, who spear-headed the action group, said: “We are disappointed, but the news wasn’t unexpected.

“We still feel the housing is inappropriate for the area, and we’re worried about the scale of the shopping centre and supermarket.”

The planning permission is subject to the building work on the retail side being started before the houses are built. Around 600 notes of support were also submitted, and manager of the Carrington Centre Post Office, Lisa Jackson, has welcomed the news.

She said: “We’re all very relieved, because the centre is in such a poor state of repair, there was a worry it would have to close, and we would lose these facilities.

“I live in the village too and I would never support over-development of an area like this, but I believe this housing is justified because in return, we’re securing the local facilities people require for a good quality of life.”