‘Mill plans will kill my business’

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Major plans to develop a former thread mill could mean the end of the road for an established family run business.

This is the devastating claim from Tony Roberts (40), who runs AJ Car Sales, in Hanover Street, Colne.

Car dealer Anthony Roberts who is seeking legal advice over concerns over the redevelopment of Glen Mills.

Car dealer Anthony Roberts who is seeking legal advice over concerns over the redevelopment of Glen Mills.

The former Park High School student has been seeking advice from a top planning lawyer since proposals for the Glen Mill site, adjacent to his premises, were given the green light by Colne councillors.

Having already been complaining about highways and safety issues for the past 14 years, Mr Roberts is concerned the North Valley Road development will make it impossible for staff and customers to get in or out of his business. Already drivers exiting the site have to perform a “dangerous” manoeuvre, pulling out of the premises before then having to reverse back to the traffic lights.

And now, with increased traffic expected from the Glen Mill development, which will include a Lidl UK and a Marston’s Inn, Mr Roberts expects his nightmare will only get worse.

The former Nelson and Colne College student, from Fence, said: “Once this gets built, it could literally completely isolate us.

“We could be at a point where we can’t trade - if customers can’t access us we could be finished.

“We are going to fight this for as long as it takes, we’ve got to do.

“We arrived at work one day to find these traffic lights outside our site, and we complained immediately. LCC came down to see us, and they said that when they did the survey for the retail park we must have been closed as they didn’t see the gates.

“We have been complaining for 14 years, but they said when there was a development of the Glen Mill site we would get all this sorted - we took them for their word.”

Ideally, Mr Roberts would like to move the access point to his 28-year-old business and implement an electric sliding gate. Lancashire County Council did provide an offer to help financially with moving the site access, but with Mr Roberts receiving quotes of £20,000, it was not enough for an agreement to be made.

And despite putting in freedom of information requests for road safety audits since the development of the North Valley Retail Park, Mr Roberts has said he has received no documentation.

Mr Roberts now fears he has run out of time to judicially review the decision, and has now approached LCC. If he does not receive a reply, he said he will have no choice but to approach the Ombudsman.

While he is not against the idea of the development, he feels a condition should be in place to stop it from having an adverse impact on the operation and access of his business.

Responding Neil Watson, Pendle Council’s Planning and Building Control Manager, said: “We’re aware that the owner of the site wishes to judicially review the decision to approve the adjacent retail development. We haven’t heard that he has stopped pursuing the case.

“Whilst we are clear that all of the issues were fully and robustly assessed during the planning application, it’s not appropriate for us to comment further pending the conclusion of these legal proceedings.”