Pendle Hill restaurant holiday plans approved

A restaurant on the side of Pendle Hill with panoramic views of up to 40 miles has been given permission for two proposed holiday units on its land.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 3:45 pm
The family-run Wellsprings Restaurant at Sabden. Photo: Google Images

The owners of the family-run Wellsprings Restaurant, at Sabden, said the changes will allow the business to develop for the future after the pandemic lockdowns, catering for local customers and tourists, along with international business people looking for alternatives to typical modern hotels.

The holiday units application had been recommended for refusal by Ribble Valley Borough Council planning officers, but councillors instead chose to support it.

The site is within an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), which are seen as worthy of protection like better-known national parks, and located near the Nick of Pendle.

Concerns about the visual impact of the new holiday units, light pollution from glazed sections and other issues had been raised by the local parish council and a countryside officer.

However, some councillors on the borough’s planning committee were astonished about concerns over light from the holiday units when a ski slop is located nearby with outdoor floodlights.

Catherine Marhraoui, owner of the Wellsprings, spoke at the borough’s latest planning committee hearing. She said: “The Wellsprings is very close to my heart. It is my home and my family has been there for 20 years. We work tirelessly to keep the business. The reason we had to erect the wooden canopy was the covid pandemic. The terrace is outdoors and has beautiful views. People like to sit there and some still prefer being outside even though indoor dining has returned. During the pandemic lock-downs, we were closed for five months, which was very hard. Our industry has very much struggled because of the lock-downs. When we were able to open for outdoor business, we considered a marquee but the wind makes that too difficult. So the wooden canopy was better because it is rigid. It also allows people on the terrace to stay dry. Previously there was no shelter from rain.

“Customers are still using the outdoor terrace. It’s lovely on sunny autumn days and we’d like to use it up to Christmas. We have ideas for hot drinks, coffee, maybe mulled wine and mince pies. ”

Regarding the separate planning application for two one-bedroom holiday units, Mrs Marhraoui said: “When the pub was closed during the lockdowns, we thought about other options. Our site has great views and we have visitors from companies such as BAE and Rolls-Royce and enquiries about bed-and-breakfast. A lot of international business people don’t want to stay in hotels that are the same all over the world. They are looking for something different. We have got 40-mile views on clear days from our restaurant.

“We also get a lot of tourists, walkers, local families and friends who say they’d be interested in accommodation. They say they struggle to get accommodation in local hotels because of weddings. ”

Mrs Marhraoui said fast-growing trees had been planted in the ski slope area which would minimise visual impact of any developments. She said the restaurant also worked with the Pendle Hill Trust and others on issues including traffic easing, as well as supporting charities in the Burnley and Ribble Valley areas.

Coun. Bob Buller asked if light from the holiday units could be restricted by design features. Borough head of planning John Macholc said architectural features such as overhanging eaves could be used. He said planning officers could probably support one holiday unit on a demolished garage site but they had concerns about the second unit which would be more prominent.

A Forest of Bowland AONB officer had raised concerns about light pollution from the units. Coun Simon O’Rourke said: “I can’t get my head around this comment when we have got a floodlit ski slope nearby. ”

Coun Ian Brown supported the plans and said it could encourage more people to visit Sabden. Also in support were Coun Kevin Horkin, who emphasised the need to support hospitality businesses, and Coun Richard Sherras, who said the two holiday units would be insignificant within the surrounding location which includes various buildings.

Councillors eventually approved both applications for the wooden canopy and two proposed holiday units. They asked planning officers to negotiate with the Wellsprings on some of the design details of the holiday units.

A previous planning application from the Wellsprings which included a one-bedroom holiday apartment extension was refused by councillors earlier this year