It was a busy night in the council office this past Tuesday where we saw a packed house eager to discuss the pre-application proposal of a new plan which many in Bollington feel very passionately about. This new proposal would see the demolition of the building that is occupied by The Bay Leaf Lounge that once used to be The Waggon and Horses pub at the bottom Grimshaw Lane.
The proposal has been put forward by Emery Planning, they state that they “have been working alongside Alison Pike Architects and RSK Transport Consultants to create a high quality scheme, which replicates the original architectural features of the existing building. This existing access and the car parking arrangement would be improved”. They argue in their proposal that the building has been extended on throughout the buildings history and the building has been left with several unattractive single storey extensions. They argue further that the building is the victim of an absence of maintenance and this has been the case for “a considerable time and has been subject to fire damage” and it is believed that some areas of the property are beyond repair. The final point they make is an important one in that “the building is energy inefficient”.
So what do they plan to do with it? Easy. Simply demolish the building and knock it to the ground. If successful, their plan would see a modern construction built which, in fairness does show some characteristics of its ancestor. Furthermore, the existing Indian restaurant, The Bay Leaf Lounge will continue to occupy the building, however, this will be on the 1st floor and on the ground floor a Sainsbury’s Local. In my opinion I’m not sure this is exactly the proverbial Phoenix rising from the Ashes. You can see the full proposal by clicking here.
Now I will explain my concerns and share my comments on this proposal.
As soon as I received the proposal information my first concern was how this would impact an already treacherous area of road? The junction on Wellington Road turning to Grimshaw Lane is subject to a lot of traffic particularly School buses, local buses, Co-op delivery vans, Tullis Russell and Slater Harrison trucks as well as BC Transport wagons. I feel that this proposal would make a dangerous high traffic area even more hazardous. This would be because the level of cars travelling to the store would mean what is essentially a 3-way junction currently would lead to drivers attempting to negotiate the road in four directions instead of the already dangerous three. In my day job, I have to constantly consider risk, particularly risk of serious harm. But I feel there is a risk to road users as more people will be negotiating this junction and there are no plans to improve the traffic measures at this point either for pedestrians or drivers and that is something we must factor in to our decision making.
There were interesting points raised over whether full consultation had taken place with property owners by the developers (it appeared from what was said that it clearly HAD NOT happened in all cases). Also the potential negative knock on effects of the development on current retail and garage services was discussed It is a very difficult site to develop – Councillor Ken Edwards
Those traffic concerns lead me to think “Well, if the traffic is already bad, where on Earth will the delivery driver park?” I put my Sherlock Holmes hat on and critically observed and revised the proposed new footprint and the property would indeed be bigger. Furthermore it will also be more to the left (towards the Chinese and the Barbers) which means that the entrance to the car park will be between Barrow’s Butchers and the Bay Leaf Lounge. In someways there could be a benefit to this as the plans seem to demonstrate that two cars could get down this new entrance. As seen in the picture below, the new footprint shows the building will also be further back from it’s current plotting (the current plotting can be seen as the thinner line within the new build in the image). Which means, that the big delivery trucks will park on the footpath! That’s right Bollington, it seems that RSK Transport Consultants don’t think that parking a big delivery truck on an area which will crossover the footpath that is is used by the public and their children. That hasn’t so far seemed to be an issues with the planners? Other Councillors highlighted during the meeting that the drivers would no doubt be lazy and just pull in which could also pose risks to drivers coming down Henshall Road/Wellington Road around the bend past the MOT garage as this could impair sight of the road. The other concern of course would be for the drivers coming out of the new junction behind the new building. Although, we can not control the delivery drivers potential parking behaviour, it is important to consider the possible problems it could cause.
I also don’t think this plan is to scale, I doubt you could get that many cars in the car park now, let alone if the building was moved back. Considering the size of the car park spaces relative to the Grimshaw Lane junction, if it was to scale it would look as if it was dual carriage way.
I am concerned about how the presence of a Sainsburys Local would affect economic equilibrium of Bollington. Many employment sites in Bollington such as Chadwick’s Newsagents, Belfields Bakery, Heathcotes Butchers and Barrows Butchers, Brassingtons and even the Co-op are seen as a part of the community. I fear that something like Sainsburys could damage the long standing retail business’ here in Bollington. People may argue “But, Tom, don’t forget they are likely to create 20-25 new jobs in the Bollington area”. I would argue that those jobs could be filled by the jobs they take away from the people of Bollington and we should protect our local businesses. Someone at the meeting, did remind those in attendance that we are a loyal bunch and we will “vote with our feet” as for instance BollINKton didn’t last.
In many ways I can understand the decision behind this proposal. I am reminded of the 1956 Fred Gipson novel, Old Yeller.
Young Travis Coates has been left to take care of his family ranch with his mother and younger brother, Arliss, while his father goes off on a cattle drive in the late 1860’s in Texas. When a “dingy yellow” dog comes for an uninvited stay with the family, Travis reluctantly takes in the dog, which they name Old Yeller. The name has a double meaning: The fur color yellow pronounced as “yeller” and the fact that its bark sounds more like a human yell.
Though Travis initially loathes the “rascal” and at first tries to get rid of it, the dog eventually proves his worth, saving the family on several occasions, including saving Arliss from a bear, Travis from a bunch of wild hogs, and Mama and their friend Lisbeth from a loafer wolf. Travis grows to love this dog named Old Yeller, and they become great friends. The rightful owner of Yeller shows up looking for his dog and recognizing that the family has become attached to Yeller, trades the dog to Arliss for a home-cooked meal prepared by Travis’ mother, who is an exceptional cook.
Old Yeller becomes infected with rabies while saving his family from an infected wolf. Travis is forced to kill Yeller after the fight with the wolf, because he cannot risk Yeller’s becoming sick and turning on the family. Old Yeller had puppies with one of Travis’ friend’s dogs, and one of the puppies helps Travis get over Old Yeller’s death. They take in the new dog and try to begin a fresh start.
On one hand, just as I agree with what Sandra Edwards eloquently argued at the meeting last Tuesday, we have a tremendous building in the heart of Bollington and we must protect buildings such as these. On the other hand, the building is in need of some TLC which is hard to repair if our source is to be believed. But, if the building has less utility to offer the Town of Bollington what can we do with it?
Currently, I am in both camps. As much as I am proud of Bollington’s rich history and stunning solid architectural heritage I feel that this building itself is similar to my Old Yeller metaphor. I feel that the building has served it’s duty as one of the most recognisable pubs in Bollingtons history as the Waggon and Horses and now currently as the Bay Leaf Lounge and if it can not carry on with effective utility, safely or efficiently then maybe we take our “Old yeller” out back and do what needs to be done. With that being said, I also do not want a Sainsbury’s Local to be built as it’s replacement.