More consultation on travellers’ site plans

Cowling Farm

Cowling Farm

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“Frustrated” council bosses have complained after being told to carry out another consultation on plans for a permanent gypsy and traveller site in Chorley.

People have another chance to give their views on the proposals for Cowling Farm, off Cowling Road.

It is being done at the request of the independent planning inspector overseeing the public inquiry into Chorley Council’s Local Plan - the blueprint for future development.

But the council’s leader, Coun Alistair Bradley, is not happy that another consultation must be done.

He said: “We are concerned about the costs of all these consultations. In fact, we are complaining to the Planning Inspectorate about it.

“We had no option but to follow the inspector’s guidance and hold the additional consultations, but we feel they should bear some of the costs due to the process being extended at their request.”

It is not yet known how much the consultation will cost, but it is expected to be thousands of pounds.

Coun Bradley said it had to be done after the inspector asked for more following the first consultation.

He said: “We are frustrated. We believe that through no fault of our own, we are having to do another consultation.

“We would like the planning inspector to be more precise about what they require.”

The proposed gypsy and travellers’ site earmarked for Cowling Farm would include at least five permanent traveller pitches.

A consultation on nine possible sites was held over the summer and received comments from 276 people and organisations.

Cowling Farm was selected as the preferred site and 20 people had their say in a further consultation.

The current consultation is on the “schedule of proposed modifications” and is being held to ensure people have considered all the documents carefully.

Coun Bradley said: “We had already invited people to comment on this previously.

“However just before that consultation closed in early December, the planning inspector felt it should have highlighted some background documents not previously consulted on.

“So now we are giving people further chance to have their say so the inspector can make her decision.

“However, all previous comments, including those made on the earlier consultation, will be taken into account by the inspector.”

Glen Hutchinson, landlord of The Spinners At Cowling pub, has been campaigning with residents against the proposed travellers site.

He said: “If the council is saying it’s the planning inspector’s fault and not the council’s, they should be complaining and not going ahead with it.”

He added that he had started looking at the latest consultation and would be making comments.

A Planning Inspectorate spokesman said: “We can confirm that we have received a letter from the council about the consultation.

“We are considering the content and will be replying to them in the near future.”

The site forms part of Chorley’s Local Plan, which has already been considered by the inspector and is expected to be formally adopted by the council in 2015.

Details of the consultation can be found at www.chorley.gov.uk/planning or for more information, call 01257 515151.

Comments can be sent to planning.policy@chorley.gov.uk or Planning Policy, Civic Officers, Union Street, Chorley, PR7 1AL, before 5pm on Friday, February 6.