Rivington Hall Barn has been granted permission to position four timber-clad huts on a grassed area in its setting within Lever Park.
Members of Chorley Council’s planning committee approved the proposal after concluding that the operators of the Rivington Lane venue - on the border with Bolton - had demonstrated the “very special circumstances” required to allow development on what is a greenbelt plot.
Planning officer Iain Crossland said that the applicant had made their case based on the need “to secure the long-term sustainability of the wedding venue business at the site”.
“The proposal would…protect existing employment, while the continued viability of the business would ensure that Rivington Hall continues to benefit from the investment generated by the use of the building for wedding parties,” Mr. Crossland told the meeting at which the plans were given the go-ahead.
A spokesperson for Rivington Hall Barn later told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the venue was “delighted that we may be able to offer additional attractive facilities for weddings, whilst being sympathetic to the beautiful, natural environment at Rivington Hall”.
Permission has also been given for the creation of a gravel path - edged with timber boarding - to provide access to the huts from the car park. Additional trees and hedges will be planted in the vicinity.
Rivington Parish Council had objected to the development on the basis that it could set a precedent for overnight accommodation in the area . The authority said that it wanted to uphold “the legacy given by Lord Leverhulme”, who gifted the park to locals, over any “profit-making venture”.
However, committee member Cllr Martin Boardman disagreed that the plans would attract other proposals for new facilities - adding that the application was one where special circumstances could clearly be seen to apply.
“What’s more special than getting married and then sleeping in a shepherd's hut?” he asked
The Friends of Lever Park had also raised concern that the huts would hamper “the public’s rights of way and rights to free and uninterrupted enjoyment of the park”.
But papers presented to the committee stated that the small area where the moveable huts - which are based on wheeled trailers - would be situated is “little used” and that public access would not be restricted in any case.
Committee member Cllr Jean Sherwood said that her first concern was always the environment, but told her colleagues that she could not see that the plans would be “of any detriment” - and they received unanimous approval.