Green light for Pickerings plan

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The owner of the Pickerings Hotel, Catterall, has won his bid for renewal of planning permission for a “phantom plan” redevelopment of the site.

But Alan Thornton, who made the outline application for the site to be developed for homes, has repeated his assurances that he has no intention of acting on the permission.

The approval is similar to a scheme approved for the hotel three years ago, which led to eyebrows being raised in the community when Mr Thornton said that, despite the application, he was not intending to go ahead with any changes.

Despite Mr Thornton’s explanation of his motives, parish councillors are concerned about the impact should the popular venue close and is replaced with homes.

Three years ago Mr Thornton went public to stress the plans were a way of increasing the value of the site, which would allow him to get cash he needed to pay for improvements.

That plan was approved in 2009, since when big improvements have been made.

When the plans were due to expire in September this year Mr Thornton lodged another, similar scheme, which has now been approved.

Catterall Parish Council, which was aware of Mr Thornton’s motives, told planners it had no objections but pointed out that the Pickerings was one of only two communal gathering places in the village.

Parish clerk Gillian Benson told Wyre Council: “Councillors are concerned that, whilst nothing has happened in three years, the potential loss of this popular facility would be a major blow to the community and visitors.”

Catterall councillors want the access on to Garstang Road retained as the sole access.

Mrs Benson added: “There is a concern that the northern boundary against Stones Lane is seriously lacking in foliage cover for the enhancement of the site and it would compliment the hotel in projecting it as set in the countryside.

“The Pickerings is one of the oldest and most impressive buildings in Catterall and its charm and character must be 
preserved.”

Neighbours opposing the plans claimed a “screening strip” of trees and shrubs had been removed.

Mr Thornton has told The Courier: “This is simply a renewal of the original planning permission... we have spent a considerable amount of money on the place and are now seeing some positive results. Frankly, nothing has changed and the status quo remains.”