New Penny plan still attracts protests

NEW PLANS to demolish a pub at the centre of a community’s battle and replace it with houses are still not good enough, say protestors.

A renewed application to knock down the Penny Farthing in Denton and build four blocks of semi-detached houses on the site has been lodged with Tameside Council.As The Correspondent detailed last month, an original application for five blocks was withdrawn after the authority was believed to have made it clear it would be rejected because the turning circle would be too small.

But even with one block fewer, people campaigning to save it are still not happy.

John Leech, chairman of the Save The Penny action group, said: “The general consensus of the group’s feeling so far is it looks like it’s still three storeys high.

“It will impose on neighbours houses and outlooks, so it looks like a lot of objections will come again from most of the people I’ve spoken too.”

The Penny Farthing, St Anne’s Road, has been the centre of a campaign to save it for more than a year after it closed its doors.

Campaigners have been trying to save it or get it listed as an Asset of Community Value and have had support from Denton and Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne.

However, the group’s bid to get its hands on it has been beset by obstacles, claims and counter claims, with John feeling a tough task was made almost impossible.

And had people known about applications for places to be listed as Assets of Community Value earlier, the community would have been more tightly knit.

He added: “Dismay turned to passion and passion turned into excitement as the members of the group began to list the improvements and additional activities that could be included in their vision for the space – micro-breweries, play areas, health and wellbeing activities and more.

“The group drafted a business plan, which included the use of the previously residential rooms for a whole host of activities to engage with the wider community, including those who were not necessarily interested in alcohol.

“It even received an offer from HMP Styal, who were willing to donate the Japanese garden they had created, following its exhibition at the Tatton Flower Show.

“But in hindsight, raising the £400,000 required to purchase and renovate it in the six-month window would have proved extremely difficult.

“However, the two months lost while applying for and awaiting a decision on the listing, made the task practically impossible.

“If the community had been aware of the concept of community assets prior to the sale – I’m almost certain the site would have been listed some time ago, leaving them the full six months to make meaningful progress.

“I’m also inclined to believe that this same awareness, would have led to community management several years earlier and also led to a stronger community spirit at large.”

Tameside Council will decide on this latest planning application when it goes before its planning committee later this year.

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