Touring caravan plan for former golf course hits the bunker

The entrance to The Laurels on Preston Road, where the touring caravan site would have been located (image: Google Street View)
The entrance to The Laurels on Preston Road, where the touring caravan site would have been located (image: Google Street View)

A proposal to turn a redundant section of golf course in Charnock Richard into a touring caravan site has been rejected.

.The operator of The Laurels - a restaurant, events and golfing venue on Preston Road - had applied to create the new facility on a part of the course which is no longer used.

An 18-hole golf course on the site closed in 2013 before the current owner took it over. Last year, a nine-hole ‘pay and play’ venue opened, but the remainder of the golfing land is unused.

However, members of Chorley Council’s planning committee refused the application - which sought permission for 60 caravan pitches, six camping pods and two amenity blocks - because of concerns over its potential impact on the greenbelt where it is located.

Planning agent Sophie Marshall read a statement from The Laurels owner Steve Storey, in which he said that he wanted to “provide an opportunity for others to enjoy the countryside”.

“I’m very passionate about the area, as a business owner and local resident - and I want it to be a site the local area can be proud of,” Mr Storey wrote.

“There are only greenbelt which sites which are capable of housing a similar scheme in rural Chorley, unless you locate to the east of the M61, which wouldn’t capture the M6 corridor.

“There is a risk of this [type of facility] being developed outside of the borough.”

The meeting heard claims that the plans would generate over £750,000 a year for the local economy and Mr. Storey said that he was also willing to pay £120,000 to upgrade an electricity substation for the wider benefit of Charnock Richard.

But planning officers concluded that the development would harm the openness and visual appeal of the greenbelt - and had failed to demonstrate the “very special circumstances” required to authorise development in such an area.

A report presented to councillors found that the three metre-high bunding designed to screen the effects of the proposal would be too restrictive of views across the landscape. Some public objectors also complained that planned footpaths on the site were too close to areas of grazing livestock and risked disturbing wildlife.

“Chorley has the second-largest area of greenbelt in Lancashire and - it’s our job to preserve that,” committee member Cllr Alistair Morwood said.

“We do our best to support local businesses and I’d be happy to support this development if it wasn’t in the greenbelt.”

Fellow member Cllr Alex Hilton added that the proposal would “diminish” the countryside which the applicant said he was keen for people to enjoy.

A call from Cllr John Dalton for the committee to make a visit to the “well-hidden” site before coming to a decision was rejected - and the application itself refused.

Mr. Storey declined to comment on the outcome.