Residents win fight to save their homes

Residents at Windmill Caravan Park feared they could lose their homes following a planning application for a drive-thru by the nearby petrol station.  Pictured L-R are Ralph Carte, Steven Roy Gratrix and Terry Duran from the Windmill Park Residents Association.
Residents at Windmill Caravan Park feared they could lose their homes following a planning application for a drive-thru by the nearby petrol station. Pictured L-R are Ralph Carte, Steven Roy Gratrix and Terry Duran from the Windmill Park Residents Association.
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Residents hope their homes have been saved after councillors threw out plans to build a drive through coffee shop.

Councillors on Blackpool’s planning committee rejected an application by Rontec to redevelop land at the back of its Esso garage on Preston New Road.

Residents of 12 mobile homes had faced losing their residences which were set to be demolished to make way for the scheme.

But Rontec has warned it is set to appeal the decision.

Resident Steven Gratrix, son of former Blackpool footballer Roy Gratix, who has led the campaign against the plans, said: “People were crying with relief when the decision came through.

“Everyone was very upset and fearful they would lose their homes, and if we hadn’t of fought the application we would have been kicked out.

“But we had to make our objections on planning grounds and I argued at the meeting that access wouldn’t be good enough.

“The councillors all live locally, and they know about the traffic issues here.”

The application site straddles Blackpool and Fylde boundaries and so must also go to Fylde Council, but the proposed access to the land is within Blackpool’s boundary meaning the committee’s decision has effectively vetoed the scheme.

Planning officers had recommended it for approval saying highways issues could be overcome.

A spokesperson for Rontec said they would be challenging the outcome of the meeting.

They said: “Rontec is disappointed with the decision reached by Blackpool Council planning committee, given that the council’s own planning officers had recommended our planning application for the drive through coffee shop for approval.

“At this point in time, it is our intention to appeal against this decision.”

The lease on the site expired in January 2016 and there is currently a legal wrangle underway with the site owners seeking to take re-possession to enable development to proceed.

In 2015 Rontec applied for planning permission to build a shop on the existing garage site but it was refused on traffic safety grounds.

The site is surrounded by land on Whyndyke Farm earmarked for 1,400 new homes, a school and community facilities which will involve major changes to the carriageway on Preston New Road.

The caravan park is believed to have been on the land since the 1940s.