Decision to be made on travellers’ site

Travellers' site on Hut Lane, Heath Charnock
Travellers' site on Hut Lane, Heath Charnock

A family of travellers will find out today whether they can continue to stay on a controversial site in Chorley.

The Linfoot family want to extend the temporary planning permission they have for Heath Paddock, on Hut Lane in Heath Charnock, for a further four years.

They can currently have two mobile homes and three touring caravans and the plans seek permission for two more caravans for family members.

The planning application will be considered tonight by Chorley Council’s development control committee.

The council has received 157 comments about the proposals, with 99 writing in favour and 58 against.

It is recommended that approval is granted for two-and-a-half years – not the four years proposed – as there are plans for a permanent site at Cowling Farm, on Cowling Road in Chorley.

But applicant Michael Linfoot believes more time is needed before Cowling Farm is ready for the family to move there.

He said: “We don’t feel two-and-a-half years will be adequate and that’s why we went for four.”

The Linfoot family moved to Hut Lane in 2009 and faced calls from objectors for them to leave the land.

But after a four-year legal battle with the council, temporary planning permission was granted for two years in 2013.

They want to extend their stay before moving to the permanent site at Cowling Farm.

They also want to relax a condition which restricts business use on the site.

Among the considerations for the committee members looking at the application will be new Government policy published last week.

It covered protection for greenbelt land, unauthorised sites and sites for people who do not travel.

The council had been waiting for the policy after an assessment showed 11 pitches were needed in Chorley – more than double the five being created at Cowling Farm.

Coun Alistair Bradley, council leader, said: “We welcome the update from the Government on the new planning guidance for gypsy and traveller sites and we are now going through the detail to see what it means for Chorley and any future requirements.

“In relation to the Hut Lane planning application, which is on the agenda for the development control committee on Tuesday night, there are a number of changes within the document including the definition of a gypsy and the agent’s response to this new policy document has been sought.

“An update will be provided for the committee ahead of the meeting.”