Plans to demolish a disused pub in Croston and build a new Co-op in its place have been put on hold amid a warning from residents that it would make traffic problems in the village even worse.

Members of Chorley Council’s planning committee voted to pay a visit to the site of The Crown pub, on Station Road, before deciding whether to approve a proposal to build a new Co-Op shop on the plot.

The hostelry closed shortly after the onset of the pandemic and, if planning permission is ultimately granted, a new shop and cafe will be put in its place.

The authority’s planning officers had recommended councillors give the go-ahead to the scheme, but the committee was addressed by a villager who said the early opening and late closing times would “pose a threat to the peace” of Croston.

However, Melanie Christie focussed mainly on the increase in traffic that would be generated by the development, which she described as a “major concern”.

“Croston has narrow and very busy streets.  The store and cafe will undoubtedly attract customers from further afield – and this will negatively impact local traffic flow and exacerbate congestion.

“Seventy-five per cent of the properties on Station Road have no off-street parking provision and parking is a huge problem in Croston,” Ms. Christie explained.

A dozen public objections were lodged to the plans, with traffic among a number of issues raised.

While highways bosses at Lancashire County Council supported the principle of development – which will come with a 30-space on-site car park – they did express concerns over the potential for “obstructive parking”. However, County Hall said the introduction of waiting restrictions on Station Road meant any problems could be “minimised”.

Several committee members expressed sympathy with locals over their parking and congestion fears.

Planning cabinet member Alistair Morwood, who sits on the planning committee, said the current situation on Station Road was diabolical – and supported a call from Cllr Alan Whittaker for the committee to go on a site visit before making their decision.

However, Cllr Chris Snow said while he would usually be opposed to the loss of a pub, he felt the current proposal was “a good re-use of the site.”

Meanwhile, Kat McMaster, the agent for the application, told the committee that the Co-Op’s plans “would not only provide a convenience store, but would also create a new place for people to meet, have a coffee and interact with local friends and neighbours…within a few minutes’ walk from their homes”.

The committee voted by a majority to defer their decision until members had seen the site for themselves.