Fears over-development will rid town of character

Garstang from above
Garstang from above
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With large developments proposed for Nateby, Catterall, Forton – not to mention the highly controversial plan to replace the town’s community centre with retirement homes – Garstang feels under threat.

These developments would lead to a significant increase in the population with some residents becoming increasingly worried Garstang doesn’t have the public amenities to cope.

Wyre Council's Peter Murphy

Wyre Council's Peter Murphy

Some predict that in a future not so distant, Garstang could lose its unique character and become nothing more than a suburb of Preston.

There have been some choice words, against Wyre Council for decisions regarding developments and especially surrounding the proposed decision to turn Garstang Community Centre into retirement flats.

With no local plan in place until roughly 2017, Coun Peter Murphy, the planning and economic development portfolio holder for Wyre Council about the council’s vision for the town.

He said: “When we first started the process of putting the local plan together we met with Garstang Town Council and said ‘this is your chance to tell us what you really need in the town’.

When we first started the process of putting the local plan together we met with Garstang Town Council and said ‘this is your chance to tell us what you really need in the town

“The two answers they came back with were more retirement homes and more affordable houses for younger people, so that’s exactly what we’ve tried to deliver.

“In terms of the community centre, the building is just not fit for purpose.

“The decision to turn it into retirement flats is nowhere near a done deal, but people shouldn’t look at it as losing anything.

“The new community hub which is being built at St Thomas’ Church will be fantastic and could easily replace the community centre.

“Any loss of car parking would be a sacrifice unfortunately but we would push for a similar deal to Booths, where people can park all day.

“As for the view, it is great but looking at the plans I don’t think it would be restricted.”

Coun Murphy also says any money left over from the potential sale of the community centre would be offered to the councils which make up Garstang and District.

“Living in the town for over 20 years, I have seen it change and grow considerably,” he said.

“The town has some great schools and some brilliant facilities but many of its young people move away because there isn’t any housing in the area for them.

“Barton Grange is set to build a cinema and a bowling alley next year, meaning people won’t have to travel out of the area to do those sort of things, giving them more reason to stay in the area long term.

“This in turn will create jobs and with more people coming into the town, it means more money for local businesses.

“I understand concerns about amenities for a growing population but bringing more money in means more money to use to accommodate for those growing numbers.”