Travellers’ site extension bid rejected

Travellers' site on Hut Lane, Heath Charnock

Travellers' site on Hut Lane, Heath Charnock

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A traveller family has failed in its attempts to have an extended stay on a controversial Chorley green belt site.

The Linfoot family had wanted to remain at Heath Paddock, Hut Lane, Heath Charnock, for four years until Chorley Council comes up with a new traveller site for the family to move onto.

The new site will be created at Cowling Farm, Cowling Road, Chorley.

However, Chorley Council’s development control committee voted unanimously last night to allow temporary planning approval for two-and-a-half years, until March 8, 2018.

In addition, the family’s bid to increase the number of caravans at the site from three to five, to allow other family members to join them, did not go ahead following a verbal agreement between the applicant and council.

And an attempt to relax a condition restricting business use on the site also failed.

Mr Linfoot had claimed the two-and-a-half years extension was inadequate.

He spoke to the committee about being realistic in how long it would take to leave the Hut Lane site.

He also argued it would be better for the family’s children’s wellbeing to stay at the site longer and that the family “will happily move to Cowling Farm” when it was completed.

Councillor Paul Walmsley said; “Obviously it’s an emotive application.”

And as regards the Cowling Farm site, he said: “A lot of hurdles and obstacles have now been cleared.

“It gives us plenty time before March 8, 2018, to get the site completed.

“I think four years is too long.”

Councillor Kim Snape, who cold not attend the meeting, submitted comments on behalf of “a large number of residents” in the immediate vicinity of the Hut Lane site.

She claimed “strained relations between the applicants and the majority of the immediate community” and said: “To extend the temporary permission longer than necessary would unnecessarily put further strain on local community relations for the applicant and immediate residents.

“They are of the firm view that this is within the gift of the council to expedite the provision of the Cowling site within a maximum period of 18 months with a strict proviso that the occupiers of Hut Lane should be compelled to move to the Cowling site as soon as possible should it be delivered in that time frame.”

Michael Doherty, who works as campaigns and communications officer for the Traveller Movement, said in support of the Linfoots that the family were seen as a gypsies and travellers’ “role model”.

He said: “In Chorley alone, this family has become a valuable member of the local society.”

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.