BOSSES at an interiors shop who developed an in-store bar have been granted mixed-use planning permission for both activities.

But it has prompted one councillor to warn about setting a planning precedent allowing ‘everybody in Longridge to open a bar.’

An application to regularise mixed uses at DMD Design at Lower Lane raised questions about noise disturbance, outside drinking, traffic, disabled access and town centre viability.

Dozens of supporters, and at least one objector, attended a Ribble Valley Council planning committee, where the application was considered.

Diane Despard, of DMD Design, was granted mixed-use planning permission. She also runs Longridge Hair & Beauty and said afterwards she opened Longridge’s first wine bar some years ago.

Mark Flaherty, for DMD, told planners: “This is a small independent retailer. The owner used her initiative to overcome issues faced around the pandemic, issues that have been felt more by smaller businesses.

"To secure viability, the owner integrated a small bar into the shop-floor area. Customers can buy alcohol or non-alcoholic drinks, if they wish. This mixed approach is becoming more popular, as shops work to attract customers."

“The shop has become a community social hub. The social element is really important. There have been 130 letters in the planning process including from residents nearby. But the bar has not operated since ambiguities arose about the planning situation. The closure has left a big whole in the community.

Objector Michael Johnson said: “This application follows another matter regarding unauthorised drinking at an outside seating area.

"Police and licensing officers issued a breach and stop notice. But the number of objections is not reflected in official submissions.

Labour Cllr Kieren Spencer said: “This location sits in the Newton area, which was a separate hamlet years ago. There’s a mixture of buildings including commercial, industrial and garage premises. Most importantly, there was a substantial pub which has now been converted into homes.”

Conservative Cllr Stella Brunskill said issues with disabled access were raised via a licensing application and she would like to see a condition addressing this.

Fellow Tory Cllr Louise Edge added: “There are separate processes for planning permission, premises licences and personal licences. I am a licence-holder and it’s quite a formal process.

"We’ve got to be careful. We could be saying everyone in Longridge can open a bar? We’ve got to think about things such as fires, the police etc. There is a process and we should be wary of setting a precedent in the Ribble Valley.”

Speaking after permission was granted for the changes, Diane Despard said: “I always wanted to have a bar in the shop, as the concept. If you go to places like Selfridges, they offer great customer experience. You can browse, have a glass of wine and think about things."

Planning conditions include time restrictions on the bar, music, the outdoor area and a maximum of 12 events allowed through the year.