MR PENDLE: We don’t want a massage parlour but a fish and chip shop would be OK

THE Local Plan drawn up by Pendle Council is, by and large, a good thing for the borough.

There obviously has to be something to prevent ugly developments such as inappropriate extensions to properties and massage parlours opening in our town centres.

But there are, in Mr Pendle’s humble opinion, times things are taken too far and councillors are recommended to reject proposals because they are contrary to certain policies in the plan.

He has come across three of these in Nelson recently.

The first concerned a development at a house where the applicant sought to build an extension virtually identical to one at the property next door.

The second was for an agricultural dwelling at a farm to enable the farmer’s daughter to live on the site rather than in Salterforth to make running the farm very much easier.

And the third concerned a plan to change the use of a sandwich bar into a fish and chip shop.

All three were recommended for refusal by officers - but the first two were approved by councillors and the third was agreed to by the Nelson Committee last week.

Because these decisions were deemed to be a “significant departure” from the local plan policy, the first two were referred to the Development Management Committee, where the decisions were upheld.

The chip shop plan goes to a meeting of the same committee on Wednesday - and Mr Pendle waits with bated breath for its decision.

Councillors will hear the change of use would mean the percentage of shops in retail usage on the block would be less than half - but a similar situation already exists on a block in Manchester Road - so where’s the difference?

Even more bizarre is the rule in the local plan under which the chip shop plan would probably have been approved if it had been for a shop which had been empty for three years.

And consider this - what difference is there to the common man between a sandwich bar selling cold food to people to eat off the premises and a fish and chip shop selling hot food for them to take back to their place of work?

There probably is a law hidden somewhere that explains it - but does the man in the street really care that much whether a food shop sells pies and chips or salad sandwiches?

Mr Pendle thinks not - and hopes councillors will use their heads on Wednesday and approve an application that will add to the vitality of Nelson town centre rather than sticking strictly to the rule book.