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Co-op's library plan is thrown out on appeal
Proposals to remodel a village library to house a Co-operative convenience store have been rejected by a planning inspector.
Mel Middleton dismissed the appeal by developers against Bradford Council’s rejection of plans for Burley-in-Wharfedale Library, citing concerns about road safety.
The novel scheme would have seen a new first floor added to the Grange Road building, with the Co-op moving from its current Station Road premises to the library’s ground floor.
The scheme attracted strong opposition from residents and other village businesses, although a petition in favour of the development also gained support locally.
The library building stands on the edge of leafy Grange Park, opposite the village cricket club.
In his report, Mr Middleton said the proposal would have had a “positive effect” on the vitality and viability of Burley’s local centre and would enhance the conservation area.
But he added: “Nevertheless, I also conclude that without a legally-binding undertaking that guarantees the conversion of the existing store into smaller units and the introduction of traffic regulations adjacent to the service yard access, the car parking and servicing arrangements could result in unacceptable harm to highway and pedestrian safety and the free flow of traffic along Grange Road.”
There were concerns in Burley that a bigger Co-op, with an expanded product range, could harm small traders.
But Mr Middleton concluded these were “top-up” shops for many customers, rather than a primary convenience retail destination.
The Co-op leases its cramped current premises, which lack facilities for staff and storage. At a meeting in the village last autumn, regional manager Peter Ryan said he was “ashamed” of the Burley store.
The meeting was also told of a £200,000 backlog of maintenance work at the 1970s library building.
In a statement following the inspector’s decision, Co-operative Food said: “Following the recent decision, we are reviewing our position regarding both our existing and proposed sites in Burley-in-Wharfedale.
“It is too early to comment about future plans until we have considered our options.”
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