Another strange case in planning terms. So here is an application for a Change of Use C3 residential to D1 teaching centre and place of worship in Deeplish , Rochdale. The application was initially approved in February (going against the recommendations of the Case Officer), but was called back before Rochdale Township Planning Sub Committee after Greater Manchester Police objected. Their objections related to an investigation into child sex exploitation and human trafficking. It is understood these are historic allegations and not linked to the present owners or the ongoing human trafficking probe. Their objection was :-
Our enquiries have established that 256 Ashfield Road is owned by the daughter of the couple who own both 262 and 266 Ashfield Road. Further, 256 Ashfield Road is linked to a current police investigation as a result of which, one of the owners of 262 and 266 Ashfield Road is currently on remand charged with conspiracy to facilitate immigration offences and has given rise to significant safeguarding concerns. As a consequence of this investigation a Section 76 closure order was granted on 14 November 2014 to close down 266 Ashfield Road for a period of 3 months.
However , at the Rochdale Township Planning Sub Committee on 17 March 2015, it was decided to grant the application contrary to the officer recommendation, but they were unable to provide a sustainable planning reason for recommending approval of the application. The Committee resolved to recommend approval of the application with the final decision referred to the Licensing and Regulatory Committee in accordance with the Council’s Scheme of Delegation.
Thankfully the Licensing and Regulatory Committee on March 30th listened to the Case Officer recommendations for refusal , and to the objections of the GMP. Ther decision was ” That the planning permission be refused for the reasons detailed within the submitted report”. By this we think they mean the objection of the GMP (above) , and the Case Officers recommendation:-
1. The proposed use of the property as a teaching centre and place of worship has raised concerns from the Police in respect of the welfare and safeguarding of children. The Local Planning Authority is required to take into account the best interests of children in its decision making. To set aside a clear objection from the Police on these grounds would not be in the best interests of children and would increase the fear of crime in the area, undermining quality of life and community cohesion. The proposal is therefore contrary to Policies CF/2 and BE/2 of the Rochdale Unitary Development Plan, the National Planning Policy Framework and would also in the circumstances be contrary to the Council’s duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
2 The use of the property as a teaching centre and place of worship would lead to a significant intensification of activity at and around the site. This would lead to noise and disturbance to residents from activity within the premises and comings and goings to and from the site. This would be detrimental to the amenity of nearby residential properties and contrary to the requirements of Policies CF/2, EM/3 and BE/2 of the adopted Rochdale Unitary Development Plan.
3 The use of the property as a teaching centre and place of worship would lead to a large number of visitors to the property. No dedicated off-street parking is proposed to serve the use and Ashfield Road already suffers from congested on-street parking at all times of the day. A significant increase in the number of cars attempting to park on-street in the vicinity of the site would be detrimental to highway and pedestrian safety and would increase competition for on-street parking to the detriment of residential amenity. This would be contrary to Policies CF/2, BE/2, A/8 and A/10 of the adopted Rochdale Unitary Development Plan. .
Well done Rochdale Council….the correct decision in the end !!