300 homes plan hangs in balance

Say no: Coun Mick Muncaster at the site

Say no: Coun Mick Muncaster at the site

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A public inquiry has been held over plans to build 300 homes on green land between Chorley and Leyland.

Angry residents packed into a public inquiry at Chorley Town Hall to oppose proposals by developers Fox Land and Property (FLP) to build the houses on land off the A49 Wigan Road in Clayton-le-Woods.

Chorley Borough Council previously threw out the plans, which were first announced in April last year, but FLP said the decision wasn’t made in the designated time, and went to public inquiry.

Residents and councillors concerned about the impact the potential development, which would be located on fields across from the Top Wok Chinese restaurant, could have on the area spoke out at the meeting on Tuesday.

They also say that it could trigger the building of 1,000 homes on greenf fields.

Coun Michael Muncaster, who represents Clayton-le-Woods West and Cuerden, said: “This appeal comes from the heart, because the residents are really concerned about this.

“The main issue is the traffic problems at the Hayrick pub junction. It’s already extremely busy at all times of day, but especially during rush hour, and this will only make things worse.”

Resident Linda Wilson added: “This should not just be looked at from an investment perspective; the everyday lives of people living in the area should be considered.

“The community’s views should be taken into account so that we no longer become victims of inappropriate schemes which should not have been imposed on us.”

Geoff Smith, 69, has lived in his bungalow on Lancaster Lane for 34 years. He said: “It’s just garden-grabbing, and it seems to be all concentrated in Clayton-le-Woods.

“I could write a book about how upset people are with the over-development of the area; it’s too much. It would be disastrous if this goes ahead. The traffic at the Hayrick is a nightmare as it is.”

Paul Tucker QC, who represented developers FLP at the meeting, argued that the area is in need of the housing in relation to Chorley Council’s five year housing plan.

This states that 2,184 new houses should be built in the borough between 2009 and 2014, and that there should be enough land supply to cater for this.

Mr Tucker said: “The true battleground of this appeal is whether there is enough land supply for the five year housing plan.

“The government has placed a great importance on the well-being of the area for enough housing, for both social and economic reasons.

“It should be a matter of real public concern if the minimum amount of proposed houses cannot be supplied.”

Mr Tucker added that FLP had promised to improve the situation at the Hayrick junction if the plans are given the green light.

These plans, which he said would ‘result in an overall benefit’ to the community, include an upgrade of the traffic signals, an upgrade and widening of the junction, an extension of the lane on Wigan Road into Leyland Way, and installation of signal control technology at the A49/ A6/ Station Road junction.

However, barrister Giles Cannock, who spoke for Chorley Council, said: “We initially refused to give this proposal planning permission because it was not demonstrated that it was needed at this time, as there is already enough land available in relation to the five-year plan.

“At the heart of the issue is that this safeguarded site will only be developed if it is proven that there is a shortage of land.”

Solicitor Elizabeth Ord, who chaired the meeting, will present the evidence to the Secretary of State, to decide.