A DECISION on a Walton charity’s proposals has been deferred following fears over an ‘over the top’ planning condition.

Walton Lea Partnership put forward blueprints for the council-owned Walton Lea Nursery site, on Chester Road.

The partly retrospective application comprises the erection of a greenhouse, which is already in place, as well as modular buildings and sheds.

It came before the development management committee at the Town Hall on Wednesday.

The applicant also wanted to secure a change of use of the main building to use as a tea room and retail space to support the site’s existing use.

It is principally used as a horticultural and education centre to support the personal development of adults with learning difficulties, with planning documents stating the charity provides 65 people with learning and development programmes.

Officers said the principle of development in the green belt was considered acceptable, it will not have an unacceptable impact on the highway network and that it provides an acceptable level of car parking provision.

The committee was told a shop and tea room has been open at the site for ‘well over 10 years’.

But in order to limit the potential impact on neighbouring properties, officers suggested the opening should be restricted to Monday to Friday, with no activity at weekends.

Another condition stated the tea room should continue to only offer tea, coffee, similar beverages and cold food – and should not provide any hot meals or snacks.

Cllr Joan Grime (LAB – Culcheth, Glazebury and Croft) asked officers to explain why a restriction over the opening days was put forward.

She said: “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a situation where a major point where you get your custom, which is at the weekend, that a shop or a café isn’t allowed to be open then.

She was told officers have been looking for very special circumstances to allow the development in the green belt and the way the charity operates is to not have learners in over the weekend, so that is not the ‘primary function’ and is not necessary.

Cllr Grime said: “It seems to me important, though, that the charity is allowed to make ends meet as much as possible and to run the shop and café at the weekend seems, to me, essential.”

Cllr Peter Carey (LAB – Fairfield and Howley) said he believes it is ‘inconceivable’ to attach such a strong condition and that it is ‘going a bit over the top’.

But Cllr Judith Wheeler (LD – Appleton) said: “I do have some sympathy with the residents on site because if this is open seven days a week, even though the use of the café and shop is low level, they don’t have any respite.”

It was recommended for approval subject to conditions but a decision was deferred to give all parties the chance to try to resolve the issues highlighted during the meeting.