This is how a new community centre on the outskirts of Preston could look – but it hinges on permission for a new housing development.Advertisement
Gregson Green Community Centre’s owners have applied to demolish the existing structure and build a new £1million state-of-the-art community facility in its place.
However, funding for the project comes from land off nearby Daub Hall Lane being built on.
Gregson Lane would see 75 new homes constructed on current agricultural land.
The Gregson Green Initiative, who have tabled the proposals, say ‘this development proposal has arisen from the overriding need to replace the dated, obsolete Gregson Green Community Centre.
“For a number of reasons set out elsewhere there is no alternative source of funds available and therefore a proposal has been put forward to facilitate the development through funds generated from a new housing development elsewhere in Gregson Lane.”
Read more: New go-kart centre is coming to Bamber Bridge
The village – located near Hoghton and Coupe Green in South Ribble – is divided over the proposals with two rival petitions already set up to back and oppose the plans.
The plans, on the South Ribble Borough Council website, have already drawn dozens of comments both for and against the scheme.
Predominantly single-storey the building would have a second floor via a mezzanine, but a two-storey scheme has already been scrapped.
The main Hall, 150 square metres, would have a demountable stage area with two exits to an external terrace.
Storage areas are proposed to provide space for the organisations, societies , clubs and wider community to store equipment.
Two changing rooms are planned, a referee room, kitchen, toilet facilities and an accessible disabled toilet facility.
The current community centre is said to be ‘in poor condition and with a limited lifespan’. Proposals for refitting the existing building were not taken forward.
Rowland Homes are the developers behind the housing which would be built off Daub Hall Lane.
Architects plans state ‘the density of dwellings is lower than normally would be expected for a site of this size. The housing mix reflects a community desire for bungalow dwellings, as well as larger family homes.’
The land for the housing development is currently owned by Gregson Lane resident Jennifer Turner.
Her late parents owned Daub Hall Farm and has previously turned down many proposals for development on the site as they were too high in density.
She has agreed to make funds available for the new community centre on the condition of the housing development being successful.
The section of land is designated as Protected Open Land (G4) in the South Ribble Local Plan, which gives it a degree of protection against development.
Read more: Housing plan for Broughton is back on the table
A petition has been set up calling for the development to be rejected by a group of residents in Gregson Lane village.
They state: “We are just villagers who love our village and all the people in it. We want to protect our lovely rural village and keep it green!
“No one wants to lose our precious green landscape. Apart from cows and sheep, there are deer, foxes, rabbits, mice and voles, hedgehogs and Squirrels, There are Bats, Tawny Owls, buzzards and other birds of prey.
“It is a beautiful green haven right in the centre of our village and most of us pass it every day. We need our precious green space for our children and for generations to come. Those who grew up and enjoyed their childhood among these fields are now seeking to deny the pleasure of this green space to others.
“To concrete over this green land and put round 70 new houses (numbers vary) will mean around 200 new people, that is around 10 per cent of Gregson Lane village population! It will mean around 150 to 200 cars and other vehicles. Most of these homes are being built for established families i.e. 3/4/5 bedrooms and many will have children competing for places in our schools. These fields are actually protected land and ordinarily cannot be built on. The Gregson Green committee have found/created a loophole that they are trying to exploit in order to get a shortcut to a new centre, by linking a housing estate to a community centre.”
The petition has attracted more than 800 signatures on the change.org website.
Chair of the Gregson Green appeal fund Jacqui Gibson said: “We have spent years working to raise money for a new centre but reaching the goal has proved impossible because grant funding simply is not available to us. Our current community centre has no changing rooms or disabled facilities and is no longer suitable to meet the needs of the local
“We had almost given up hope until this unique opportunity was offered to us. We are all looking forward to the day when the new community centre is finally built.”
The plans will go forward to a meeting of South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee in the next few months.
What do you think of the proposals? Do you live in the village? Let us know in the comments below