Rehab centre looks set for green light

First published in News by

Objectors looked set to lose their battle against a drink and drug residential rehabilitation centre in their village this week.

Plans for the development at the former Withnell House Nursing Home go before Chorley Borough Council's development control committee tomorrow evening.

Director of development and regeneration Jane Meek has recommended that full planning permission be granted.

However the council has received 70 letters of objection to the controversial development at the centre, now known as Astley Hall, in Bury Lane, Withnell.

The application has ben submitted by Inward House Projects, founded in 1978, to provide residential rehabilitation for people recovering from drug problems.

Ward councillor Iris Smith has raised concerns regarding security implications of the proposal and the potential impact on nearby residents.

Residents who do not want the development to go ahead, highlighted a range of concerns including it will not fit in with the character of the village; it is near a primary school and children's home; fear of increased crime and public safety; more suited to an urban area; extra traffic.

In March the Citizen reported how the new owner of the property, Nick Astley, had controversially changed its name to Astley Hall, despite concerns that it could be confused with the town's grade I listed building Astley Hall in Astley Park.

If the rehab centre does go ahead, up to 30 clients a time could be treated there on a six to nine month residential course, supervised by 13 staff plus visiting experts/support workers.

Inward House says clients' movements are strictly controlled and that the centre would be similar to one it runs in Lancaster where there have been no complaints.

In her report to the committee, Jane Meek stated: "The proposed change of use is considered to be appropriate development within the green belt and it is not considered that the level of vehicular movements generated by the premises will have an adverse impact on the character of the green belt."

She said the scheme could only be assessed in respect of the relevant planning policies, adding that "it is not considered that the proposed use will impact on crime within the area or the amenities of the neighbouring residents."

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