Appeals letter to Government

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FURIOUS Chorley Council has blasted the Government for “opening the door” to housing developers in the borough.

The council says people are “fed up” that planning applications for greenfield sites are constantly being won on appeal after being refused by the authority.

Chorley is writing to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, asking for the Government to “stick to its word” and support the borough.

It wants assurances that local people can take local decisions.

Leader of Chorley Council Coun Alistair Bradley said: “The people of Chorley are absolutely fed up of seeing application after application for homes on greenfield sites being refused by the local council only to be overturned on appeal.

“It got to such a stage last year that we felt we couldn’t even decide applications based on the local plan because it seemed the view of an inspector, who would probably have no prior knowledge of Chorley, would ride roughshod over our future plans for the borough.

“We have a large supply of housing in Chorley and there are many brownfield sites yet to be developed so we think it’s wrong that planning inspectors are saying plans for housing on greenfield sites should get the go ahead now.”

The issue came to a head last year when an inspector approved plans for 135 homes at Lucas Lane, Whittle-le-Woods.

That led to the authority approving a planning application for 160 homes on Bolton Road, Adlington, because it felt it had no other option, due to the previous decisions of the planning inspectorate.

The authority asked the Secretary of State to listen to call in the Bolton Road application but he declined to do so.

However, in the response from him, it said ‘local authorities are normally best placed to make decisions relating to their areas and it is right that in general, they should be free to carry out their duties responsibly, with the minimum of interference’.

“We want to know once and for all whether local people will be allowed to make local decisions or whether the Government wants to open the door to developers and let them build houses wherever they want,” added Coun Bradley.

An inquiry into the adoption of the new local plan will be heard in mid-April and if approved by the Government should mean the authority wrestles some of the control over planning decisions away from developers and back into the hands of local people.