Double standards jibe in planning row

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ONE of Chorley Council’s most senior members of staff has been embroiled in a planning row in her own back yard.

Garry Thompson (top) of Town Lane, Whittle-le-Woods, has accused Chorley Council of double standards after they recommended he was not allowed to extend his garden but allowed a similar request from near-neighbour Lesley-Ann Fenton, the council’s head of partnerships, planning and policy.

There’s no suggestion Ms Fenton has done anything wrong but Mr Thompson claims he’s been treated unfairly.

He said: “I have bought a bit of land at the back of our house to extend our garden. The land is part of the same field where my neighbour was given permission to extend their garden last year.

“I want to do exactly what they have done on the same field but it has been recommended for refusal. I wouldn’t have even put an application in if that one hadn’t have gone through.”

The application was due to be decided by the council’s planning committee on Tuesday but in the end it was deferred for a site inspection.

However, planning officers have already recommended it be thrown out.

In planning documents, officers said the plan would be ‘detrimental to the character and appearance of the greenbelt and would be prejudicial to the purposes of the green belts.’

Garry said: “I’m glad the councillors deferred the decision for a site inspection.

“It’s important they be allowed to make their decision but I’m unhappy of the inconsistency of the officers.

“I put the application in because my neighbour put her one in. Once it was passed, I thought ‘why could I not have the same?’”

Ms Fenton is one of three top directors at the council under chief executive Donna Hall.

Her application, to change land from that within an agricultural holding to allow an extension of garden curtilage, for her home on Copthurst Lane, Whittle-le-Woods, was given the green light in December.

In documents submitted to the council, it says she wished to ‘formalise a change of use of the land bringing it into their curtilage in order that they can start to use the area formally for their enjoyment’. The land measures 12m wide and 22m deep.

Garry said: “I have already reduced the size of mine to exactly the size of the application she got passed.

“The planning officers are so inconsistent in their decisions. They have set a precedent now. The bottom line is, it’s not fair.”

Coun Allan Cullens who is responsible for planning issues in Chorley said: “In line with planning laws, we treat each individual planning application on its own merit regardless of who the applicant is.

“If any officer or member applies for permission, there are strict rules and procedures for this, which includes it being considered in public by the development control committee.

“There are material differences between the two applications in question.

“For example, one is to the side of a property and the other is to the rear, one is close to an existing development, the other is adjacent to agricultural fields. The most recent application could set a precedent in the local area and could lead to further applications, which could harm the greenbelt. We are awaiting the decision and it will ultimately be decided upon by the development control committee.”

Garden row: Lesley-Ann Fenton