New fight to prevent homes being demolished for coffee shop

From left,  Ralph Carte, Steven Roy Gratrix and Terry Duran from the Windmill Park Residents Association.
From left, Ralph Carte, Steven Roy Gratrix and Terry Duran from the Windmill Park Residents Association.
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Residents face a fresh battle to save their homes from demolition after petrol station chiefs submitted an appeal against a decision to reject plans for a drive-through coffee shop on the site.

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Rontec wants to redevelop land at the back of the Esso garage on Preston New Road in Marton.

The move would mean the demolition of the Windmill Caravan Park at the back of the garage.

Blackpool’s planning committee rejected an application for the scheme last June amid fears over the impact on highways, and on residents.

But Rontec has now submitted an appeal.

Resident Steven Gratrix, who is the son of former Blackpool footballer Roy Gatrix and who has led the campaign against the plans, said: “I’m not surpised they have appealed as that’s just usual for big companies.

“But I feel Blackpool Council will put up a good case and won’t back down.

“Although the impact on people’s homes is not a planning issue, three or four of the councillors on the committee raised the fact they do have a duty of care towards residents.

“We will continue our fight to stay here, and still maintain the road developments necessary for this scheme are dangerous.”

Documents accompanying the original planning application said the proposed development would “improve the existing facilities” at the service station, and the proposed layout is “considered to offer the most efficient and convenient format in terms of site configuration, to accommodate the drive-thru coffee shop and customer parking provision.”

Rontec owns the land, but the caravan park is believed to have been on the site since the 1940s.

The residents’ campaign was backed by both Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden and Fylde MP Mark Menzies.

The application site straddles an area covered by both Blackpool and Fylde Councils.

Therefore the proposals had to be submitted to both local authorities for consideration.

Fylde approved the application using its delegated powers.

But access to the site would be from inside the Blackpool boundary which is why Rontec also needs to secure planning permission from Blackpool Council.

The applicant and the council must now submit evidence to the appeal which will be considered by an independent planning inspector.