Fresh hopes after meeting with Minister

Photo Ian Robinson'Chorley Aerial'Buckshaw Village

Photo Ian Robinson'Chorley Aerial'Buckshaw Village

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It is hoped progress can be made on approving the Chorley’s blueprint for future land use throughout the borough after a meeting with a Government minister.

A delegation from Chorley travelled to Westminster to discuss the Local Plan with Planning Minister Nick Boles.

Leaders of Chorley’s main political parties asked the town’s MP Lindsay Hoyle to organise the meeting after being left frustrated with a planning inspector’s decision earlier this year that could leave the borough wide open to developers building on greenfield land.

The delegation demanded to know why Chorley was being dealt with differently to other councils in the process of adopting the borough’s Local Plan despite having an excellent record on delivering new developments in the borough.

Council leader Alistair Bradley said: “It was important we were able to represent the people of Chorley at Westminster and the planning minister did think we had a valid point, so the next step is to write to the chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate asking him to look into the matter.

“Getting the local plan adopted is vital for the council to be able to control development and ensure important decisions on the future of Chorley rest with local people.

“Not only that, we are an ambitious council that wants to attract more investment into the borough, and having a local plan is a key part of that because investors want to know what the future for Chorley holds if they are going to bring their business here.”

Mr Hoyle said: “I will keep putting pressure on to make sure the people of Chorley get some answers and that we aren’t treated differently to other areas of the North West.”

The planning inspector refused to close the examination into the Local Plan in its current form because she felt a new Gypsy and Traveller Assessment needed to be undertaken, despite the current one being valid until 2016.

She also asked for more flexibility in the number of new homes for the borough over the lifetime of the plan and queried the need for the phasing of land, in effect allowing any site to come forward immediately.

The approach has been supported by all parties and Deputy Leader of the Conservative group, Councillor Paul Leadbetter, joined the delegation to London.

“This is a vitally important issue for the borough and has received cross-party support with unanimous backing from all councillors,” said Councillor Leadbetter.

“It was important that this was made clear in the visit to Westminster and I now hope this will put a spotlight on Chorley and also put an end to the situation that has happened all too often in Chorley where planning applications for housing developments are being overturned on appeal.”

The council is now sending a letter of complaint to the Sir Michael Pitt, Chief Executive of the Planning Inspectorate, in a bid to get the planning inspector’s decision reviewed.