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Council ignores church pleas over former Greggs plan in Warrington
7:00am Wednesday 11th December 2013 in News
MEMBERS of a town centre church lost their battle to stop an empty shop next door to their church potentially being turned into a betting shop or pay day loan business.
The congregation at Holy Trinity Church, on Sankey Street, had voiced their objections to a planning application which would see the former Greggs store have its use changed from retail to financial business or cafe.
But at a planning meeting on Wednesday they were there were insufficient grounds to refuse the plans.
Clr Sheila Woodyatt (CON - Lymm) said: “Sometimes I can’t find the planning reasons to refuse something that is being proposed.
“I have a great deal of sympathy with the congregation and sadly understand what is being said by the applicant that there are plenty of similar places.
“If there are plenty do we need any more?”
The applicant, Summit Leisure, had withdrawn initial plans for an adult gaming centre, but plans for financial or cafe use remained.
Minister Ken McDermott at Friar Green Independent Methodist Church said: “I’m pleased the gaming centre has been withdrawn, the remaining use for financial does open the door for bookmakers and pay day loan companies, both would be a threat to vulnerable people who come in to the church.
“We see many people who have fallen foul of pay day loans or are addicted to gambling at the foodbank and it would be unsuitable in that location.
“We do not object to a cafe though.”
While Alison Crane added: “Holy Trinity is a Grade II listed building. Do we really need a betting shop, pay day loan business or pawn shop next door?
“We already suffer from anti-social behaviour with people waiting outside the door.
“We try to encourage people to move on when they are on the steps of the church. A betting or pawn shop will cause even more problems.”
But Roger Etchells, speaking on behalf of Summit Leisure, said the core strategy had reduced the need to keep as much retail in the town centre with more mixed use premises in its plan.
He added: “People going to the church have to pass a whole range of uses in the town centre.
“It would also bring the building back into use adding to the vitality of the town centre.”
The plan was approved by the planning applications sub-committee despite Clr Woodyatt voting against the scheme.
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