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Decision on fried chicken shop in Penwortham pushed back

Posted on - 1st May, 2024 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Food & Drink, Penwortham, Preston News, Redevelopment, Restaurants in Preston, South Ribble Locations, South Ribble News
Right-hand unit is the proposed location in, Liverpool Road, Penwortham
Right-hand unit is the proposed location in, Liverpool Road, Penwortham

Controversial plans to open a fried chicken shop in the heart of Penwortham have been put on the backburner after councillors decided to defer a decision over whether or not to grant permission for the outlet.

The proposal for a Chester’s Chicken franchise, on Liverpool Road in the town centre, had ignited local anger – with 114 objections being sent to South Ribble Borough Council.

Concerns ranged from the likelihood of odours affecting the surrounding area to the potential for noise, parking problems and antisocial behaviour.

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The authority’s planning officers had nevertheless recommended councillors on its planning committee give the green light to the venture.  However, members declined to decide on the application amid confusion over whether Penwortham Town Council had made any representations on the subject.

Even before the item was withdrawn from the agenda, some committee members had expressed concern over the plans – with one proposing they be refused outright.

That followed comments from Howick and Priory ward representative David Howarth, who said he was “disappointed” that the planning department’s recommendation for refusal was “based on misinformation”.

A report presented to the committee stated that the premises – which had most recently operated as an estate agent – had been empty for more than 12 months, “with no apparent appetite for retail use”.

Members were advised that weight should be given to the benefit of bringing “a long-term vacant unit back into use” – in spite of the proposal conflicting with some elements of South Ribble’s own local planning policy.

However, Cllr Howarth said he had been advised the shop had been rented out for the last 12 months, but that the renter had “chosen not to use the premises”.

“It has been occupied in all but name, as you cannot let out a property on which someone else has a lease and is paying rent.  Liverpool Road is a vibrant, multi-purpose centre in which business units do not stand empty,” said Cllr Howarth, adding that new ‘To Let’ boards had only been erected over the premises around a month ago.

He also took issue with a claim in the agenda report that the nearest residential properties were over 70 metres away, on the opposite side of Liverpool Road, along Queensway.  He highlighted the flats above the neighbouring retail units to the proposed chicken shop, one of which, he said, was just 3.65 metres from where the takeaway’s extraction system would be installed.

“How can you open a window on a warm summer’s day and all you have coming into your home is the smell of fried chicken being discharged from a flue four yards away?” Cllr Howarth asked.

Planning officer Chris Sowerby noted that the flue would be attached to an “outrigger” on the back of the building, meaning there was “no direct line of sight” between the equipment and the flat window to which Cllr Howarth referred.

He did acknowledge that the council was “not party to any rental agreements” regarding the claimed recent letting of the unit, but stressed that the premises had, in any case, “remained vacant” over the last year.

However, committee member David Shaw had heard enough and proposed refusal of the application, because of his concern that neighbouring residential properties were “just too close to it”.

Before his suggestion could be seconded or put to the vote, fellow committee member Phil Smith queried the absence of any comments in the agenda report from Penwortham Town Council, which he said he would have expected to have “something indefinite to say” about the proposal.

Although town council comments do not have to be detailed separately from those of the general public, they are often presented in that way for the consideration of planning committee members.

Planning manager Catherine Smith suggested the item be deferred in order to allow checks to be carried out on whether the town authority had submitted any statement. The matter will then be brought back to the next planning committee meeting for a decision.

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