Big children's activity centre and café set to open at closed Lancashire Mazda garage

Street view of garage site
The site where the play centre is planned -Credit:Google

An empty car garage is set to be transformed into a children's activity centre, if planning permission is granted. The former Brownhill Garage in Whalley New Road was sold in February by Perry’s Motor Sales for £600,000 after the firm moved to new premises at the nearby at New Toll Bar Garage.

Now the former Mazda dealership will be converted after Blackburn with Darwen Council granted Clayton-le-Moors based The Little Lancashire Village planning permission with six conditions for the change. A report recommending approval by planning officer Tom Wiggans says: “The application site is a longstanding garage use/car showroom, now fallen vacant due to relocation of the former tenant.

“It is sited within a cluster of (ground floor) commercial premises. There is ample parking space to the rear. The site includes two separate buildings, with the one nearer the front last used more for sales/showroom, and the one further to the rear last used for MoTs/repairs.


“Both are now vacant, but this present change of use application excludes the building to the rear. This application seeks to convert one of the two existing units into a children’s play centre with ancillary café. The applicant already operates three successful businesses in East Lancashire.

“The vision of this project is to deliver high quality, scaled down, real life play units where children up to the age of seven can learn through role play. Additional services will include baby classes/baby area, a possible sensory area and educational classes.

“It will offer pre-defined play sessions, booked online in advance with set numbers per session. The role play centre will be open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Sunday, offering three bookable sessions a day and private sessions for parties at weekends.

“The maximum number of parking spaces required at any one time would be for 12 to 14 families, plus two to three staff members. One letter of objection was received from a local resident, raising the following concerns: highway safety (cars, pedestrians, and emergency vehicles), and amenity.

“In particular ‘noise and disturbance from customers, including customers sitting in their cars whilst parked on the double yellow lines and leaving rubbish on the ground and sitting with their car engines running and listening to loud music’.

“The proposed change of use to form a play centre would retain the building’s commercial nature whilst providing a leisure facility to the local area and wider borough for the early ages demographic. The proposal would also bring the building back into use with associated environmental and economic benefits.

“Given the previous commercial use of the site as a car repair garage/showroom, the proposal would not be likely to have any greater impact on the amenity of occupiers of nearby residential properties.”