Surprise vote spells victory

First published in News by

Objectors are celebrating a surprise victory after planning councillors turned down an application for a drink and drug residential rehabilitation centre in a Chorley village.

Chorley Borough Council's development control committee, which met on Tuesday evening, May 22, had been recommended by director of development and regeneration Jane Meek to grant full planning permission.

But the committee overturned her recommendation, upholding residents' complaints of fear of crime and disorder from the proposal for Astley Hall, Bury Lane, Withnell - the former Withnell House Nursing Home.

Scores of protestors attended the meeting.

The council had received 70 letters of objection to the controversial application, submitted by Inward House Projects, founded in 1978, to provide residential rehabilitation for people recovering from drug problems.

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

Protesting residents 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.

The rehab centre planned to treat up to 30 clients a time 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."

Jerry Sutton, chief executive of Inward House Projects, said: "I'm meeting with some of the directors tonight to determine whether or not to submit an appeal."

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