‘Morbid’ furore over chapel plan

Bank House, Alexandria Road, St Annes
Bank House, Alexandria Road, St Annes

PLANS to convert an empty former bank into a funeral home have been met with anger by residents.

Close to 40 letters, as well as a petition, signed by 29 people, have been sent to Fylde Council by homeowners near Bank House, Alexandria Drive, St Annes, regarding a proposed change of use of the building to an undertaker’s chapel of rest.

The application, made by Robert Hollowell, of D Hollowell and Sons Funeral Directors, which has parlours in Blackpool and Thornton, includes plans to install a new entrance doorway, replace windows throughout the property, to build a new car park and to put up externally illuminated lights.

Following a consultation phase, residents have reacted angrily to the plans, saying that there are several issues with traffic and parking, as well as the building’s use not being appropriate for a residential area and that it is a “morbid reminder of death and mortality”.

Further concerns include a worry about slow moving funeral corteges, a fear the presence of grieving relatives could lead to depression and anxiety and that the unloading of bodies could be visible to residents.

Fairhaven Coun Cheryl Little said: “Residents have raised concerns about the plans, in particular concerns with regards parking and safety in the area.

“It is an emotive and sensitive issue, in particular with grieving families in mind. It is difficult for the neighbours, but I support the residents with their views.”

In response to concerns, Mr Hollowell said: “We feel a few people have been misled.

“We expect three or four funerals to take place every week – not every day.

“If planning is passed we are willing to sit down with any residents in the area who have concerns and work with them, at our own cost.

“We are moving to the area to make it easier for doctors, who had been travelling to our Blackpool offices to assist in duties.

“Moving to St Annes saves time for them examining bodies.”

Following a planning meeting at Fylde Council, planning officers decided to defer a decision on the plan.

Officers wish to seek clarification on an issue with the car park area.

The next planning meeting is on February 13.