AN ORMSKIRK retail park’s bid to overturn sales restrictions – allowing Home Bargains to move into the site, creating around 35 jobs – is set to be approved.
The Hattersley Centre, on Burscough Road, is hoping to overturn a ruling which limits the range of goods its shops can sell, including a ban on food.
Home Bargains wants to expand its current operation within Ormskirk by moving out of its Moor Lane store and into a 1,858sq m site – part of which was taken up by Focus DIY until the firm went into administration in 2011 – on the retail park. But planning conditions imposed on the site only allow retailers to sell DIY goods, furnishings, beds, electrical goods and furniture and floor coverings and other non-food bulky goods.
The centre has struggled to fill units during the current economic climate, and proposals to allow an Asda store to open there were rejected in 2011 and a subsequent appeal against the decision failed.
West Lancashire Civic Trust, Ormskirk Community Council and the Ormskirk and District Community Council have all objected to the move, claiming it would be detrimental to the town centre, and pointing to the failure of the Asda appeal as a benchmark for food stores not being suitable for the site. Residents have also raised concerns over additional traffic on Burscough Road as well as noise, dirt and light pollution.
But Home Bargains said that its current site on Moor Street is not “fit for purpose” and the retail park is the only suitable premises in Ormskirk. A report going before the council’s planning committee tonight outlines the retailer’s plan to move into the vacant premises for the next 20 years, which would involve “significant investment” and employ around 50 staff compared with the 15 working at the Moor Street store.
And borough planner John Harrison said the proposal would bring back into use a vacant unit without significant harm to the town centre.
Officers recommended the decision to grant permission be delegated to the borough planner, subject to a string of conditions, including restricting the use of the unit to protect the town centre, ensuring a solely food or clothes store could not take over the premises in future.