Date published: October 21, 2022
The transformation of a former restaurant into a six-home development where fire engines would “difficult to get to” was approved at a planning committee meeting at Number One Riverside on October 20.
Rochdale Council’s Planning Committee found the change in use of the historic Crimble Hall building to be acceptable despite councilors’ concerns about encroaching green belt and failing to meet service requirements of fire.
The Crimble Hall project includes the demolition of “a large portion of the existing building”, but not the original structure or features.
It would also see five new ‘executive homes’ (revised from seven in the original application) built on the three-acre site between Rochdale and Heywood.
The additional dwellings, designed to be larger and more valuable family homes, would be accessed by Crimble Lane, which councilor Peter Malcolm, who was formerly in the fire service, was not convinced would be comfortably suitable to a fire truck.
This was also a concern for the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service who recommended a sprinkler system to allow for longer response times – this was not made mandatory by the planning team although the applicant said he would.
“I don’t think a fire truck would come up there,” Councilor Malcolm said.
Planning officers said this was not an issue when the restaurant was active, which is why they did not follow the GMFRS recommendation. They estimated that one restaurant was more of a fire hazard than six houses.
The layout of the site means the development would go into greenbelt land, which raised eyebrows from councilors Stephen Anstee, Peter Winkler and Billy Sheerin. They all said that this application “does not respond to the special circumstances” to rely on the green belt.
Officers hit back by saying the redistribution of land meant there would actually be more green space once the development was complete. Jennifer Heywood, representing neighboring Crimble Hall Farm, addressed the committee to raise her objections.
“I responded in writing to this but received no response,” she said. “Access is the main problem for me.
“We have three generations of farmers who have lived there and there is an unadopted private road and we don’t want to have any conflicts with people going down there. I also want you to consider the legacy left in this area once they took their money and left.
“We don’t want this path to become a rat race.”
She agreed that Crimble Hall should be brought back into use, but did not want the farm to suffer from people encroaching on their land and blocking the tracks – to the detriment of their livestock.
A condition in the approval, which was passed by a tight margin, was included to provide Jennifer and her family with a copy of the decision stating their rights should people decide to create access to their fields.
Dom Murphy, who represented the claimant at the committee meeting, assured councilors that all pre-20th century elements of the room would remain intact – only the elevations added by the restaurant would be removed. He hoped this plan would bring a historic building back to the community.
George Lythgoe, Local Democracy Journalist