A housebuilder has been told that it must send construction traffic for a new estate in Chorley through a neighbouring development where residents are already living – and not down a narrow country lane.
Redrow Homes applied for permission to build 115 properties off Wigan Road in Clayton-le-Woods. The firm wanted to use the single-file Nell Lane as a temporary access point for construction vehicles – and planned to remove just under 100m of hedgerow in the process.
But members of Chorley Council’s development control committee said that the proposed route was not suitable for the vehicles which would be using it. They also raised concerns about the loss of habitat for creatures living along the roadside.
In granting permission for the development, the committee laid down a condition that Nell Lane must not be used for construction traffic – meaning it will instead have to access the new site via Parkhurst Avenue, the main road running through Redrow’s “The Hedgerows” development which is being completed nearby.
That road had been proposed as the way in for residents of the new estate once it had been built, after the firm dropped earlier plans which would have seen permanent access created on Nell Lane.
However, committee member Neville Whitham claimed the proposed temporary access was “a bit of a ruse”.
“Once it’s put in, then sooner or later it would [end up becoming] the permanent entry point to this new estate – and you’d never get construction traffic and ordinary traffic passing side by side on that road in any case,” he warned.
Speaking of a recent visit to the site made by the committee, Cllr Aaron Beaver agreed with others who commented on the risk to pedestrians and residents of the nearby Cuerden Residential Park which increased use of Nell Lane could pose.
“Were we safe as we walked along? Were we hell,” Cllr Beavers said.
Planning officers told the meeting that highways bosses from Lancashire County Council had concluded that there would be “no adverse impact” on Nell Lane under any scenario – and that the decision by the developer to seal up the access after construction was an “important improvement” on previous plans. The committee heard that any change to the access proposal would require fresh consent from the council.
But the concerns kept on coming, with Clayton-le-Woods parish council chair Mark Clifford calling on committee members to “find their inner Sir David Attenborough” and prevent the removal of natural hedgerows in the area.
Planning officer Iain Crossland said the replacement planting which Redrow had pledged to undertake after the construction period was over would take “a stretch of time to mature”.
“But the proposal is for them to use native species and, in terms of biodiversity, that’s the best we could hope for,” he said.
But sensing the mood of the room planning manager Adele Hayes advised that the committee could impose a condition preventing the use of Nell Lane for construction traffic.
That option was backed by a majority, along with a demand that wheel washing facilities be installed on the outset to help protect Parkhurst Avenue.
“The very first piece of work which happens is clearing the site – and that could make the [recently built] estate quite dirty,” committee member Martin Boardman said.
“So we should insist on wheel washing from day one, not day 30 as is usually the case on developments – because otherwise we are going to get a lot of complaints from residents.”
The meeting heard that Redrow could appeal against the condition imposed, which is likely to cause the firm to have to relocate its planned showhomes on the site.
The developer has pledged that 34 of the properties on the new estate will be affordable.
The proposed new estate is part of a wider site allocated for housing and employment use under Chorley Council’s local plan, which estimated that a total of 699 dwellings could be accommodated overall. The planning permissions granted for the site have already exceeded that number and part of it remains available for further development.
Clayton-le-Woods West councillor Peter Gabbott claimed that there would be a 900 percent increase in the population of the Cuerden area in the 20 years up to 2021.