a NELSON woman’s plans to open a traditional fish and chip shop in the town centre have been approved for a second time.
And the application prompted a councillor to call for one of the policies in the Pendle Local Plan to be scrapped.
Members of Pendle Council’s Nelson Committee gave their backing to Paula Gibson’s proposals to change the use of a sandwich shop in Railway Street into the chippy.
They had previously approved a similar application in September, only for their decision to be overturned by the Development Management Committee.
Nearby trader Saleem Akhtar said there was strong opposition in the area to the chip shop plan from landlords and urged councillors to turn it down.
But Mrs Gibson said her neighbours were happy with what was proposed and presented a petition signed by more than 800 people to the meeting.
She said a planning officer’s report was “biased” and rather than damaging the viability of the town centre, she would be employing four or five people and her shop would be the only one of its kind in the town centre.
“I will not be competing with other takeaways as I am opening at different times,” she said. “The vitality, vibrancy and viability of the shop will all be beneficial to the town.”
Coun. Sonia Robinson said: “We have supermarkets and other retailers all around selling all varieties of food, some of it not to the British taste. One thing we do not have is a fish and chip shop in Nelson town centre and I do not see why we cannot have a viable one.”
Coun. Mohammed Iqbal said he was happy to support Coun. Robinson. “Fish and chips are synonymous with the culture of this country which we are deeply proud of.”
He said Policy 26 in the Pendle Local Plan, which determined the percentage of retail outlets on shopping blocks, was out of date.
“All the applicant is trying to do is diversify and we are trying to put hurdles in her way. Are we trying to put her in the dole queue where she would join the hundreds that are already there?”
Coun. Iqbal said had the shop been empty for three years, there was every likelihood Mrs Gibson’s plans would be approved, but because the shop was in use, the plans were recommended for refusal.
“We should stand firm and not have the media criticise us for running Nelson down,” he said.
And Nicholas Emery, from the town centre partnership, said a block in Manchester Road also breached Policy 26 after a retail electrical shop was converted into a non-retail credit union office.
After members voted in favour of the application, council solicitor Peter Frost said the matter would be referred to the Development Management Committee on March 16th as it marked a significant departure from council policy.
This prompted Coun. Iqbal to ask that the Executive look at scrapping Policy 26. “It is councillors who run the council, not officers,” he said.