Councillors’ concerns over green belt plans

Given approval: Dick Lane, Brinscall. Below, Councillor Christopher France
Given approval: Dick Lane, Brinscall. Below, Councillor Christopher France
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Concerns have been expressed over the future of the green belt in Chorley.

It is feared the borough’s countryside and other cherished open spaces are coming under increasing attack from development.

Frustrated councillors feel their hands are tied by Government guidelines.

Chorley Council’s development control committee gave the go ahead to green belt applications - including the controversial redevelopment of Brinscall Hall Farm, Dick Lane - into six new homes - when it met on Tuesday night.

But at the meeting, Labour councillor Christopher France, elected to the council in 2009 representing Wheelton and Withnell, remarked; “There does seem to be a lot of green belt development. I’ve never seen so much in all my years.”

And fellow Labour councillor Alan Whittaker, who represents Chisnall, said of the farm bid: “Government guidelines make it very difficult for us to refuse. Green belt policy that was sacrosanct has now come under concerted attack.”

Committee chairman councillor Steve Holgate said the council was faced with more green belt applications.

“Yes, absolutely, it’s down to down to Government guidelines. Firstly the Government are trying to encourage house building. There’s a shortage of houses generally in the country. And secondly, it’s a means of kickstarting the economy in their view.

“To change planning policy guideline to accommodate that opportunity for housebuidling, what they’ve done is make easier for people to successfully apply for planning permission in green belt areas.”

He said it was now easier, for example, for people to apply for change of use from agricultural to domestic compared with the past.

“There are a lot more applications and it’s a lot more difficult to resist them,” he said.