Travellers get fresh inquiry

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Attempts to move a group of travellers from a greenfield site on the outskirts of Chorley have been dealt a fresh blow.

Chorley Council’s development control committee had been expected to refuse the siting of two static caravans and touring caravans on Hut Lane in Heath Charnock at last Tuesday night’s meeting.

However, the council couldn’t make a decision after they received a letter saying an appeal had been lodged and a planning inspector would decide the scheme’s fate.

The move comes after the applicants Michael Linfoot and Martin Boswell claimed the council had not met a deadline for a decision which was August 23.

Coun Alan Cullens, who has responsibility for planning at Chorley Council, said: “The planning application for Hut Lane will now be considered at a public inquiry.

“The reason for this is that changes were made by the applicant to the original application that meant we had to re-consult with neighbours and interested parties, delaying the process. As a result, the application was not considered by the planning committee at its August meeting, and meant the decision was overdue and would have to be taken just outside the eight-week target date.

“The applicants have appealed, which means the decision will be made by the planning inspector. However, the committee made it clear that their view is to agree with the planning officers’ recommendations and refuse the application.

“This will form the basis of the council’s case at the inquiry. The council’s costs for the enquiry will come from the £145,000 already set aside for the Hut Lane matter. A date is yet to be set for the inquiry.”

Stuart Harrison, who is acting as a planning agent on behalf or Mr Linfoot, said: “This is a controversial application and we have been through appeal and was turned down. I felt that we knew what the decision was going to be minded for refusal and so we jumped the gun and appealed to the planning inspector because the council had not determined it in eight weeks.

“I don’t believe that the council have given the travellers a fair hearing.

“The planning officers came back to us after a few weeks and wanted us to make the application not as open-ended which I can understand. At least this way everything is in the application for the planning inspector to make a decision on and we won’t need to pay for another one with some different conditions added.”

It is just over a month since an independent inspector went against the council’s decision to refuse plans by Fox Land and Property LLP for 300 homes off Wigan Road in Clayton-le-Woods after an eight-week deadline was missed.

Coun Cullens added: “If an application is not decided within the eight-week target period, the applicant has the option to appeal. This target date does not extend if the applicants change the application during the process. We believe that the current process is flawed.

The Linfoot and Boswell families moved onto the site two years ago.

One resident said: “It’s greenbelt and the travellers need to accept that and go.”