Chorley country lane 'will be ruined' by road changes for new housing estate

A picturesque country lane in Chorley will lose part of the hedgerow running alongside it after a developer was granted permission to dig it up to make way for the entrance to a new housing estate.

A picturesque country lane in Chorley will lose part of the hedgerow running alongside it after a developer was granted permission to dig it up to make way for the entrance to a new housing estate.

An application to build 115 homes off Nell Lane in Cuerden was rejected by Chorley Council’s planning committee in October 2020, because the applicant wanted to create an access point from Nell Lane itself.

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Nell Lane has been the focus of a battle over planning permission (image: Chorley Council)

However, the company behind the plans - Monaco Nell Lane Limited - appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, which has now overturned the original decision, meaning that the properties can be built.

Sixty metres of hedgerow will be removed as a result of the reversal, after a planning inspector, ML Milliken, concluded that “the overall effect on the character and appearance of Nell Lane and the surrounding area, including the effect on trees and hedgerows, would be acceptable”.

However, Cllr Mark Clifford - Clayton West and Cuerden ward councillor on the borough authority - condemned an outcome which he has campaigned against since the proposals were first mooted.

“It will cause the absolute destruction of Nell Lane and its beautiful environment and wildlife.

“It is the quintessential English country lane and now it’s going to be ruined with chicanes and bollards just for the sake of greed.

“So many people objected to it - I am absolutely disgusted with this decision,” said Cllr Clifford, who also represents Clayton with Whittle on Lancashire County Council.

As part of the new access point, the lane itself will be widened, with some traffic-calming features installed and a reduced 30 mile-per-hour speed limit introduced.

It appears to be the final twist in a long-running saga which saw Redrow Homes originally apply for permission to develop the plot, which lies to the rear of its existing estate off Wigan Road. They, too, wanted to create an entrance from Nell Lane - but a temporary one, only for construction traffic.

Their attempt was thwarted when planning committee members made it a condition of the permission that works vehicles must be routed via Parkhurst Avenue on the firm’s completed development

Control of the yet-to-be-developed land subsequently passed to Monaco Nell Lane Limited, whose application for an estate with permanent access from Nell Lane was then dismissed by committee members.

In their decision letter overturning that refusal, the inspector acknowledged that while Chorley Council had advised that none of the trees proposed for removal were of “high arboricultural value or provide a high level of visual amenity”, their loss - and that of the hedgerow -would have a “negative impact” on Nell Lane’s character and appearance.

However, they concluded that the effect of the loss would be tempered by proposed mitigation measures such as other landscape features.

The 115 properties will all be provided for private rent - with 30 percent to fall under the affordable homes category - as a result of a “unilateral undertaking” made by the applicant, which will also see it provide open space. A failure to provide those elements in full as part of the initial application was a further reason for the council's refusal of the proposal last year.

The inspector noted the council’s preference for a registered provider of social housing to operate the affordable dwellings, but stated: “There is nothing before me...to lead me to believe that private management of the affordable units would compromise their delivery or management, in the short or long term, and therefore no conflict with the development plan arises in this regard.”

Monaco Nell Lane Limited has been approached for comment about the inspector’s decision.