First images revealed of protested community centre plans

The first pictures of one of the biggest and most controversial developments in Garstang town centre since the building of Booths store in 2009 have been made public.

Wednesday, 22nd June 2016, 8:46 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd June 2016, 4:48 pm
An artist's impression of how Garstang Community Centre may look if plans from Blackpool-based developer Keyworker Homes are approved. The plans include the partial demolition of existing business centre and erection of retail floorspace, community room with associated office and 16 apartments together with car parking.

The plans and artist’s impressions, proposed by Blackpool-based developer Keyworker Homes, show the partial demolition of the three storey community and business centre in Garstang, and the building of a replacement three storey complex.

Although the size of the investment has not yet been made public for the High Street building, it is likely to run to several million pounds.

The original proposals were the subject of stinging criticism as they contained a flats development on High Street car park which threatened to cover up the view of the Bowland Fells and River Wyre.

Full details of the planning application are now on Wyre Council’s website and the lodging of the plans follows much debate in the town involving the public, Wyre Council, Garstang Town Council and various pressure groups.

There was also a major public demonstration about the plans on the car park in the autumn of 2015.

The plans include the partial demolition of existing business centre and erection of retail floorspace, community room with associated office and 16 apartments together with car parking.

The red brick front of the current building, built for Garstang Rural District Council in 1903, will be retained but the neighbouring extension, which over the past two decades has housed Garstang’s tourist office, then a Fair-trade cafe/museum, will no longer exist.

If the project is approved it will see the car parking spaces reduced from 120 to 114.

The planning document also confirms the public toilet block will be retained and that the site is within an area at risk of flooding.

No indication is given in the application of the name of the retail company or companies which may be based on the ground floor but critics of the scheme have suggested the retail element, if it is a supermarket, could hit trade in High Street. Others argue it would attract shoppers to High Street.

Wyre Council wants to sell the site and Keyworker had put in what is understood to have been the only bid for the site.

Eian Bailey, managing director of Keyworker Homes “We hope that the revised proposals demonstrate that we have carefully considered all concerns and opportunities raised as part of an extensive community consultation exercise, which has included local residents, Garstang Town Council and other community representatives, whilst ensuring that we are able to deliver a viable and sustainable development.

“The Scheme will be an asset to Garstang Town Centre for Businesses, Residents and Visitors alike. From experience elsewhere we believe that investment on this level will enhance the high street and contribute to further footfall and customers for this area of Garstang.”

A spokesman for Garstang Town Council said it will discuss the plans at the next council meeting on Monday, July 18.

Marco De Pol, managing director of De Pol Associates, planning agents acting on behalf of Keyworker Homes, said: “The scheme will deliver a wide range of economic, social and environmental benefits including the creation of jobs and the provision of a publically accessible community space. The development will also enhance the Conservation Area by removing a former 1960s extension and replacing it with a high quality modern building which retains the historical façade thereby respecting and enhancing the important heritage features of the original building.”

Wyre Council is likely to make a decision on the plans later this Summer.