Home plans given green light at hotel

Silverdale residents who are concerned about plans for the former Royal Hotel in the cntre of the village.
Silverdale residents who are concerned about plans for the former Royal Hotel in the cntre of the village.

Doubts were raised over whether a village pub will ever re-open as councillors approved plans to build two semi-detached homes next door to it.

Michael Holgate won consent for the development on land adjacent to the Royal Hotel, which has been closed for around two years, on Emesgate Lane.

But residents, speaking at a meeting of Lancaster City Council’s planning committee, said homes on the site would make it less likely that the village pub, also owned by Mr Holgate, would reopen.

It was argued that the currently disused building could ‘thrive’ again because of the large amount of walkers who visit the area.

Bryan Lee said: “The Royal Hotel is vital to the future of the village. The Silverdale Parish Plan says maintenance and future enhancement of the Royal is important for the future vitality of the village.”

Brian Barden, planning agent on behalf of Mr Holgate, told councillors that the two-house scheme had been designed to allow the hotel to continue.

He said: “The future of the public house is something that will be decided in due course.”

Some public speakers told the committee they feared the pub itself could be converted into housing. But planning officer Eleanor Huddleston said that before this could happen a separate planning application would be required.

And, she added, it would need to be demonstrated that ‘committed attempts’ had been made to market the Royal as a going concern.

Coun Andrew Kay said it would be difficult to turn down the application on the basis it could make the pub unviable, adding: “The Royal Hotel is a separate matter.”

Coun Paul Woodruff said the pub was important to Silverdale, but he added: “Unfortunately, in this day and age, it’s very difficult to run a successful business in the licensing trade.”

And Coun Sheila Denwood added: “There’s an old saying that if you don’t use it, you lose it and that’s obviously what’s happened here.”

The other argument against the homes centred on access and the single track road, Gaskell Close, which runs alongside the site.

Parish councillor Angela Woods said the road was not wide enough for two cars to pass without one pulling onto the pavement, something she said was a safety risk for pedestrians. But Lancashire County Council’s highways department raised no objections. The proposed three-bedroomed properties were voted through by 12 to one at Monday’s meeting.