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Plan to bring shipping containers to Penwortham rejected

The site of the proposed storage facility on Liverpool Road in Penwortham - it was used as a car wash for a decade until earlier this year and a petrol station beforehand.
The site of the proposed storage facility on Liverpool Road in Penwortham - it was used as a car wash for a decade until earlier this year and a petrol station beforehand.
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A plan to build a storage business in Penwortham out of dozens of shipping containers has been rejected.

The owner of a now disused car wash on Liverpool Road in the town had applied to create the new facility on land at the back of the site.

A shipping container currently blocks the entrance to the site - the plan was to bring in over 50 others to provide a storage facility for students.

A shipping container currently blocks the entrance to the site - the plan was to bring in over 50 others to provide a storage facility for students.

But the proposal - which one local said “doesn’t bear thinking about” - was refused by the planning committee at South Ribble Borough Council.

Members agreed with planning officers that the units would not be in-keeping with the area and could become a nuisance to the site’s neighbours.

Under the plan, 54 shipping containers would have appeared in the centre of a residential area. According to the landowner, the business would have targeted university students in need of storage out of term time.

Several nearby residents told the committee of their of their concerns, with one describing his own experience of working with the kind of units proposed for the site.

“These containers are like drums - a small knock and [the whole area] hears it,” Paul Thompson said. “Even walking in them causes noise.”

Karen McLaughlin, who lives on Liverpool Road, was also nervous about the potential noise from the fork lift trucks which, she said, would be needed to fill and empty the containers.

And David Tayburn, a householder just three doors down from the potential site, told committee members: “It should be on an industrial estate, not in the middle of houses.

“It couldn’t be considered visually inspiring,” he added.

The current owner took over the car wash business in April 2016, but closed it down earlier this year. Since then, residents have been given a taste of living alongside shipping containers - two of them have been put in place to block the entrance to the forecourt.

Speaking on behalf of the applicant, Joshua Hallewell, a chartered planner, warned committee members that they should judge the proposal based on the history of the site - including a previous guise as a petrol station and second-hand car lot.

He claimed the failure of planning officers to view the plan in that context “brought into question the soundness of [their] reasons for refusal” and he suggested very few of the containers would be visible from the street.

Mr. Hallewell also said a decision to reject the application would not be the end of the story.

“This is a commercial site and a commercial use for it will be found - either on appeal or by [bringing forward] another use altogether,” he said.

But ward councillor David Howarth questioned the business case for the current proposal.

“For eight months of the year, students are all in halls of residence. Who’s using these storage units for the rest of the time?” Cllr Howarth asked.

“Is anybody seriously checking what will be going in and out?”

Cllr Howarth also said the problem of contamination on the site had been overstated and that it could be cleared up and used for new houses.

The committee agreed with officers and voted unanimously to refuse the application - on the basis that it would have a greater impact on the area than the previous uses of the site.

The proposal was also found to be incompatible with the council’s local plan for the area.