New community centre gets go-ahed in Bromley Cross despite safety fears
10:43am Monday 21st October 2013 in News
DEVELOPERS have been given the go-ahead to open up a new community centre in Bromley Cross despite residents branding the plans “unsafe”.
Opponents said an unlit approach road to Toppings Barn in Darwen Road, as well as additional noise and a lack of demand for a community centre, were reasons why the plans should be shelved.
The council received 33 letters of objection to the conversion of the barn, including a petition signed by several Darwen Road residents.
Objectors pointed out that the Highways Agency had deemed the road, which can only accommodate one direction of traffic and has no pavement, unsuitable and prohibited any increased use.
Councillors established that the developers were not in a position to erect lighting on the approach road as it belonged to someone else, but still approved plans, provided the exterior of the building has extra safety lights fitted.
At Bolton’s planning committee meeting, Cllr Guy Harkin said: “I would not like to be in the position, as a council, that we’re looking back after a fatality or serious accident, thinking that we could have done something.
“If experts say that something is unsafe I don’t think the council should consider giving it approval.”
But other councillors, including council leader Cllr Cliff Morris, disagreed, arguing that there was little wrong with the application provided adequate safety provision was made.
Cllr Joyce Kellett, vice-chairman of the planning committee, said: “This facility is used for various functions anyway as it is so I don’t think there will be much of a change in the amount of traffic using this approach road as a result of the change.”
A speaker nominated to represent concerned Bromley Cross residents at the meeting said he had met no one locally who thought the community centre was needed.
“This scheme is both unwanted and unneeded by people in Bromley Cross,” he said. “We fail to see why the village hall up the road or even facilities at Turton School could not serve a similar purpose.
“The applicant, Graeme Luxton, does not live in the area and therefore may not have a true gauge of demand for this centre. But our biggest concern is public safety as this road is narrow, unlit and unsuitable for any vehicle usage at night.”
Objectors also pointed out that garages next to the barn were regularly targeted by vandals and said a new youth club may become a target for anti-social behaviour.
The community centre will operate between 9am and 10pm from Sundays to Thursdays, and close at 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
In addition to the lighting, the council is demanding that the developer outline plans for parking and for reducing the risk of crime.
Permission was granted in 2009 for the site to be turned into a community centre, but that had expired.
Work converting the barn is expected to start soon.
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