Retrospective application over park cobbles slammed

Karl Harrison on the asphalt which replaced the cobbles in Worden Park, Leyland
Karl Harrison on the asphalt which replaced the cobbles in Worden Park, Leyland

Work to resurface Worden Park’s courtyards – which caused outrage in Leyland – did not have planning approval.

It has emerged South Ribble Council did not have planning consent to pull up the popular cobbles earlier this year.

The council said the move was urgent due to safety concerns, but it was met with criticism from visitors to the town’s flagship park, who complained there was no consultation.

Now, the council’s Parks and Neighbourhoods team has submitted a retrospective planning application for the work to the council’s planning department.

It comes just days after a member of the planning committee, when discussing a separate application thrown out last week, said: “We’re a bit browned off now with people making retrospective applications .

“People just keep doing things their own way.”

Park visitor Karl Harrison, who spoke out against the resurfacing works at the courtyards around the Arts and Crafts Centre, said: “It just goes to show - the council said it was all above board, but they hadn’t even put the plans in.

“Surely they knew planning approval was needed - how naughty is that?

“It’s a dangerous precedent to set though – what’s to stop people building extensions to their houses now and submitting the applications

“I think people will be really amazed at this. It’s like it’s one rule for one and one rule for another. It’s unbelievable.”

Residents were furious when they noticed the work had been done in January, arguing there hadn’t been a formal public consultation exercise for people to put forward their views.

“That really got people’s backs up,” Karl added.

South Ribble Council put up notices around the park to let users know of the long-term ‘improvement’ plans there, and the council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods and street scene has also explained that removing the cobbles needed to be done urgently for safety reasons.

Coun Peter Mullineuax, said: “Due to the rapidly deteriorating surface and the inclement weather we were having, we felt immediate action was necessary to ensure public safety in the courtyard.

“We therefore undertook the initial phase of this work in January, and we are planning to put another layer of heritage surfacing on top, which will look more like the surfacing when it was first done in 1850.

“The type we are proposing to use is called ‘bound gravel’, which has the same appearance of the original loose gravel, but without the problems of access for people with prams or in wheelchairs, and also without the high levels of maintenance required in future.

“This work and the current planning application are tied in with a wider range of infrastructure improvements around the business facilities at the heart of the park, including the paths through the formal gardens and some new planting.

“People will be welcome to have their say on the proposals as part of the planning process.”

The retrospective application also includes further proposals for Worden Park, including finishing off the resurfacing works with gravel, and works to one of the external walls of the Derby Wing.

If passed, the next phase will involve replacing the existing cement-rich render on the eastern wall of the Derby Wing with a lime render.