Plans for a garden centre and farm shop which could bring as many as 300 jobs to Pendle are to go before councillors on Thursday night.
The application is from Libra Textiles, the parent company of Boundary Mill and news of which we reported at Christmas.
It envisages a development covering 9,040 square metres of land at the end of the M65, on the opposite side of Whitewalls Drive to the Boundary Mill complex.
The garden centre and outdoor sales area would cover 3,335 sq. m., with an outdoor clothing sales area (2,052 sq. m.), farm shop (1,619 sq. m.) and cafe/tea room (417 sq. m.) making up the rest along with a 452-space car park.
Members of Pendle Council’s Colne and District Committee were presented with a detailed 50-page report outlining the plans and the responses of bodies such as United Utilities, the Environment Agency and Lancashire County Council.
United Utilities and the Environment Agency have both asked for a scheme for the disposal of foul and surface waters to be included in the plans as a public sewer crosses the site.
The county council says a significant amount of work has been undertaken to address highway concerns and it has no objections provided safety measures are implemented.
The report says 10 letters of objection have been received from the public, citing concerns about traffic levels and highway and environmental matters.
In her report, planning officer Mrs Kathryn Hughes said it was agreed there were no preferable sites in Nelson and Colne to accommodate the store.
“There is a strong need to ensure the development, if approved, is appropriately restricted to maintain the specific retail characteristics at this out-of-centre location. Such restriction will ensure the proposed development does not compete directly with the town centre retail provision,” said Mrs Hughes.
Members were recommended to approve the plans.
One member of the committee, Labour Councillor for Vivary Bridge Coun. Ian Tweedie, has questioned the issue of Conservative councillors voting on the application as the applicant is a Tory party supporter.
Coun. Tweedie said: “It is fact the parent company of Boundary Mills, Libra Textiles, donated £20,000 less than 12 months ago to the local Conservative Party and here we have a major planning application submitted upon which questions could be raised by a neutral person looking at this application if it is passed and the voting record of Tory councillors.
“I and the Labour group are not against employment opportunities in Pendle for our residents, but the system needs to be a fair and transparent one.”
Leader of the Labour group Coun. Mohammed Iqbal added: “It is a matter for Pendle Conservative Party and their councillors what they do, but £20,000 was a large donation and in such a short space of time the councillors have a big decision to make. The people of Pendle will be watching closely.”