U-turn on Garstang Community Centre plan

Garstang Community/Business Centre
Garstang Community/Business Centre

The Garstang community appears to have claimed victory in the battle for the community centre and its car park.

In a meeting with the town council last week, prospective developer Keyworker Homes revealed revised plans for the site, including keeping at least 98 of the existing car parking spaces.

Garstang residents protest against the potential development of the Community centre and its car park.

Action Garstang

Garstang residents protest against the potential development of the Community centre and its car park. Action Garstang

The long-running saga over several years has seen residents of Garstang campaign and protest against the sale and especially the loss of a town centre car park.

Originally the application included building retirement flats on the land but that has been scrapped with the revised plan appearing to have taken locals’ views into consideration.

The retail outlet which would be built on the site has been touted as either a Marks & Spencer Food or Waitrose, although nothing has been finalised with the final plan set to be submitted in early March.

The Blackpool-based developer said: “We hope the benefits of the new proposals, when published, will find support with all the stakeholders and members of the public.

“Keyworker Homes feels strongly that, if approved, the scheme will be an asset to Garstang town centre.”

The plan also includes a community room with toilets and a kitchen.

There will still be flats, but no longer retirement as first proposed.

There will be no change in the exit from the car park with the High Street roundabout set to stay and the retention of the public toilets, millennium and memorial gardens and council controlled parking. The building will include a community office and function room and will not be built any higher than the existing building.

If plans are approved by Wyre Planning Committee, work is set to begin at the end of Summer with completion by September 2017.

The car park will be open during the building process with the site fenced off.

Leader of Wyre Council Councillor Peter Gibson said: “Wyre’s Chief Executive and I had a very positive meeting with Garstang ward councillors, the Town Council and Keyworker Homes.

“The new proposals take into account the views of both the council and residents, and everyone seemed enthusiastic about them.”

Action Garstang were also present at last week’s meeting and while Chairman Mary Randles believes the plans are “a great improvement” on the original, she reveals plans to buy the centre as part of a coalition are still being explored.

She said: “It’s definitely much better than it was before and it’s thanks to everyone who has signed the petitions, attended the protests and supported the campaign that these plans have changed. Now it’s about deciding if the town council will attempt to buy the centre and if that’s still what people want to happen.”

The town council decided it would bid for the site in early January as the centre was listed as a community assets by Wyre Council, which owns the building. The town council have set a date of March 21 to decide on whether it will start to raise funds for the site and will conduct a survey of local views.

The coalition would consist of Action Garstang, Garstang Chamber of Trade, Garstang Town Trust and the town council.

Mrs Randles said: “The survey will be available online and in paper form soon and we’re really keen to see if these revised plans have changed anyone’s minds about trying to buy the community centre.”