Updated: Saturday, 11th July 2020 @ 7:39am

'Books not bars': Independent Chorlton bookshop celebrates as planning permission for watering hole rejected

'Books not bars': Independent Chorlton bookshop celebrates as planning permission for watering hole rejected

By Edward Roberts

An independent Chorlton book store is celebrating after planning permission to open a bar in next door was rejected.

More than 100 people joined the protest outside the shop and rallied with the cry of ‘books not bars’ as the conversion was unanimously decided against.

There had been concerns that the owner, Victoria Johnson, would have to move from her home above the bookshop if the plans came to fruition.

The 49-year-old, whose family have ran the shop for more than 30 years, feared that the bar would drive her out of the flat as well as having to close community’s small book haven.

Andy Murray, a bookseller who works for Miss Johnson, has said that staff are very thankful for the overwhelming support.

He said: “There were an awful lot of people who wanted to help and it makes you realise that there is a lot of support out there.

“The local community was behind us all the way. There were people outside with banners and one person even wrote a song.”

The planned bar would have been two stories high and sat directly next door to the bookshop. The proposal even had designs to include a decking area that would stretch out into the street.

There are currently 29 bars already operating in the area which spurred on many people who wanted to support the independent store as closures have recently affected the community.

Mr Murray said: “Over the past few years two local toy stores closed, but we’re doing OK. People make a point of using us and make a point of telling us that they want to stay open.”

A petition had managed to collect almost 900 signatures which detailed the opposition to the conversion and was presented to the council.

The campaign was supported by MP John Le who appeared in person at the demonstration outside the Wilbraham Road property.

The masses of people waited tensely before the result was announced late in the afternoon.

One bookshop devotee, Ruth Rosselson, explained the significance of the event.

The Chorlton resident said: “It’s not a campaign against bars and for bookshops; it’s a campaign against this bar and for this bookshop.

“It was really important to me and I had already put forward my objection. I thought I was really good and obviously  as it’s during the week day I imagine there would have been even more people there if not.”

Miss Rosselson also described the possible closure as an ongoing threat the area is facing from bigger businesses.

The 44-year-old said: “This is one of the reasons I moved to Chorlton so that I can feel part of a community that is full of independent shops that are so vibrant.

“If these shops stay open it means people don’t have to go further afield or onto amazon. It means the money stays in our community and that is what’s best for everyone.”

Images courtesy of Andy Murray, with thanks

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