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 david.simister@champnews.com
Thursday, 27 September 2012 (3031001)
Farewell to Arms
by David Simister


A VILLAGE pub looks set to close after council planners make a U-turn over the proposals - despite claims there is “widespread opposition” among residents.

Planning officers previously rejected plans to turn the Crawford Arm into two homes - but similar proposals, due to be discussed at a council meeting tomorrow (October 4) have been recommended for approval.

Officers said the pub in the village of Crawford, near Skelmersdale, was sold for a fraction of the asking price - with the only interest coming from residential developers.

An appeal against the original refusal in May has been launched by applicants BAB Construction.

In a report presented to councillors ahead of tomorrow night's meeting, a member of West Lancashire's planning department wrote: “Whilst Crawford Village has limited community facilities, there is a village meeting room which serves the community. I am therefore satisfied that the proposals will not affect the vitality or viability of the village.

”I am also satisfied that there is no longer a viable demand for a pub in the village as demonstrated in the longstanding failure of the pub and the fruitless marketing exercise carried out over a period of 18 months.

“However, in terms of alternative provision, the nearest alternative is 1.6m away which for most people would warrant a car journey. The relevant policies would therefore normally warrant a refusal on these grounds. However, the reality is that this is a pub that has been failing for a number of years. Its bread and butter earnings are reliant on the community it

serves. However, that community is small and insufficient to support a profitable pub in the current economic climate. I consider it to be unrealistic that a buyer would invest in a failing pub in this location – Crawford being essentially a

commuter hub with limited passing trade. Therefore, taking all the above into consideration, it is my view that the conversion of the pub to residential is an acceptable solution for this premises.”

Crawford Road resident Richard Krueger, in a representation sent to the council's planning department, said: “There is widespread discontent in the village about this proposal. The Crawford Arms has been, historically, not only the social hub of the community, but an attraction to visitors from surrounding areas, attracted by the rural beauty of the area, good hospitality and a family friendly environment in which to socialise.

”As the Crawford Arms is an essential part of the heritage of this village, I would argue that its loss would have a major impact upon the social environment of village life and that therefore, the proposed use would not be a suitable replacement for the original and traditional purpose for the buildings.“






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