Our celebration of 10 years of neighbourhood planning arrives in Lancashire, where we’re visiting the beautiful Toll Bar Cottage.

When Broughton Parish consulted for their neighbourhood plan in 2016, a key priority for the community was to create a community venue and café. The plan allowed the community to use developer contributions to purchase Toll Bar Cottage, a building that dates back to the 1740s when it was used as a toll collector’s house.

The beautiful Toll Bar Cottage
The beautiful Toll Bar Cottage.

What did the neighbourhood plan achieve? 

One of the positives of having a neighbourhood plan is that you can benefit from increased Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) monies to bring about projects that meet the needs of the community. In Broughton, eighty percent of costs to develop Toll Bar Cottage were covered by the CIL. The cottage was sensitively renovated and extended, retaining its original fireplace and toll payment window. The Parish worked with local businesses on the development where possible, with the main contractor Vista Construction being based in Penwortham, while the gardens were planted by Ribblesdale Nurseries in Preston.

Every aspect of the cottage was developed with the community’s needs in mind. The cottage gardens include a veranda with seating area, fruit trees and space for a Christmas tree. The toilet is fully accessible and has baby changing equipment. There is also a space for local residents to display their arts and crafts for a small fee. Internet access is provided, improving digital inclusion among the community. Local police hold surgeries at the cottage, helping to build their relationship with residents.

“It’s brought the village together.”

Cllr Pat Hastings
Outside space of Toll Bar Cottage.

As the village emerges from the pandemic, the cottage provides somewhere for local people to get together. The café has benefitted those who were nervous about meeting in person again after Covid, as well as those new to the area. It’s a space for all ages, with over 40 volunteers ranging from 14 to 92 years old. The cottage hosts a diverse calendar of events, from crochet and watercolour classes to a café club for those with young onset dementia.

Councillor Pat Hastings explains that neighbourhood planning “gives a clear focus, backed up by research, to allow parish councils to move forward”. The group now plans to further revitalise the area and is working with a developer to create a new park and allotments.

The neighbourhood plan has breathed new life into the Broughton community and transformed a “dilapidated” building into a vibrant community space. “It’s brought the village together.”

Toll Bar Cottage cafe.

Toll Bar Cottage cafe.