CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new pub and restaurant in Leek have been given the green light by planners.
Marston’s Inns and Taverns has been given permission to redevelop land at the former Churnet Works, off Macclesfield Road, which is home to the town’s Sainsbury’s supermarket.
A final decision on the planning application was made today, Thursday, by members of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s planning applications committee, after officers recommended it be approved.
It comes after the chain withdrew a previous application, which was set to go before members of the planning applications committee, in July.
Campaigners claimed that the site was earmarked for affordable housing which would be lost if the building went ahead.
Two planning applications went before the committee. The first was to vary the terms of a ‘Section 106’ agreement which was approved on May 4, 2011, for a mixed use development at the Churnet Works site. The second was for the pub restaurant itself.
After a heated debate, members voted by seven to four for approval.
Arguing for the plan, committee member Councillor Mike Worthington said the site had been derelict for four years, and that no-one wanted to build affordable houses there.
He said: "There are plenty of affordable housing sites in Leek. If this was not approved, it would cost taxpayers money on appeal."
A total of 25 letters of representation had been received which raised concerns that another pub in Leek was not required; that he development would result in an increase in traffic; the loss of affordable housing; that it offered nothing to young people; and that Leek needed a bowling alley and cinema rather than another pub.
Arguing against the plan, Councillor John Povey said: "How many more times is this council's approval of a mixed use development for the Churnet Works site going to cause it embarrassment?
"I would have to disagree with officers' comments that housing did not form an essential element of the original Sainsbury's application. It was put forward at every consultation event and included in all the glossy literature."
A petition ‘Save our Locals’ Dyers Arms, White Lion and The Abbey Inn, had been received and signed by more than 1,000 people.
A protester who attended the meeting, Rory Hollins, said there were already a number of food establishments close to the Marston's site. He added: "There are 14 existing providers on the doorstep of the application. There is no need in the locality for a new tourist hub or visitor accommodation.
"It must be, therefore, be concluded that this new public house will draw its customers from both the locality and Leek town centre."
The site will be accessed from a new fourth road leading off the existing internal roundabout on Churnet Way.
The building, which it is stated would be a food-led premises, is set to provide 150 covers internally and 40 externally.
All internal seating would be on the ground floor. A two-storey element to the building would also provide accommodation for the manager as well as an ancillary office.
It is anticipated that 50 full and part-time jobs would be created at the business.