Will it go or will it stay? Councillors meet to decide future of historic former Garstang Business and Community Centre facade

The former Garstang Business and Community Centre
The former Garstang Business and Community Centre
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Wyre Councillors are visiting Garstang tomorrow for a site inspection at the town’s former Business and Community Centre.

Members of the planning committee want to see for themselves the site of the proposed demolition and rebuild of the facade of the landmark building at the top of High St.

It is the latest stage in the controversy over the future of the former council owned property which was also once the offices of the former Garstang Rural District Council.

Plnning approval has already been given to convert the site to provide shopping space, 18 residential apartments and car parking.

But the fate of its facade is due to be decided at Wednesday's planning committee.

Approval had previously been granted for the partial demolition of the three storey building with the retention of its facade.

But now, following site investigation, the applicants owners Keyworker Homes Ltd are seeking permission to knock the front of the building down too and rebuild it on safety grounds.

Support for the change has come from the council’s Building Control officer Mark Robinson who said: “The safest option would be to deconstruct and reconstruct the façade due to the constraints on site with ground conditions, new foundation requirements, lack of space and boundary conditions.”

The planning committee will be recommended to approve the change, which is the only application on today’s agenda.

A conservation expert, who noted “the relatively low significance of the original, early 20th Century element” and its recording, and a retired architect have advised Wyre Council they support the change. The architect noted: “I would support this application providing the local authority can get some guarantee that the facade will not be taken down, never to be seen again?”

But three letters of objection have been received from members of the public.

One wrote: “The building is in the Conservation Area so surely the keeping of the facade would have been a condition of KWH getting their permission in the first place. This is not a minor planning alteration and should therefore be re-submitted for full planning.This would give the public another chance to raise their objections.”

A report to the planning committee noted that in a similar case in Tottenham Court, London the local council refused an application saying it was not a minor amendment, but were overruled at appeal