Chorley village housing and brass band building knocked back by councillors over sewage flood fears

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A planning inspector will decide whether a proposed housing estate that has attracted more than 200 objections can be built in a Chorley village.

Plans for the 40-dwelling development on land off Babylon Lane in Heath Chrnock - which would also include a new home for a local brass band - were lodged with Chorley Council earlier this year, but the authority failed to reach a decision within the 13-week window that local authorities have for determining applications. The firm behind the proposal, Adlington Land Limited, has submitted an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, which will now get the final say.

However, the council’s own planning committee was nevertheless asked to consider the matter - and resolved that it would have been minded to refuse the blueprint, if that power had still been within its gift. The indicative decision, which will be communicated to the planning inspector, was chiefly as a result of concerns over the potential for the estate to overload the already under-pressure local drainage system.

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The grassland plot is classed as safeguarded land - meaning that it would ordinarily be protected from development at least for the duration of the borough’s current local plan, although could be built on in future. But Chorley does not currently have a five-year supply of land set aside to meet its minimum new housing targets - and so national planning rules dictate that it should permit bids to build even on safeguarded land, unless the downsides of doing so would “significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits”.

The land on Babylon Lane in Heath Charmock, where 40 homes could be built (image: Chorley Council)The land on Babylon Lane in Heath Charmock, where 40 homes could be built (image: Chorley Council)
The land on Babylon Lane in Heath Charmock, where 40 homes could be built (image: Chorley Council)

However, a majority of committee members disagreed with a recommendation by planning officers to indicate that they would approve the proposal, after hearing claims of a flooding risk and pressure on local services.

Council leader - and Chorley South East and Heath Charnock ward member - Alistair Bradley told the committee that residents in Adlington and other areas have reported streets and homes being “flooded by raw sewage, overflowing from drains”.

“Decades of underinvestment means the infrastructure doesn't work and I have no confidence it will work any time soon,” Cllr Bradley said, adding that - whatever the housing supply figures - the authority was “not obliged to accept new housing proposals that harm our communities”.

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Local resident Sue Salmon said that there were “irreconcilable environmental issues” arising from the proposal, but Louise Leyland, the agent for the application, highlighted that neither water company United Utilities, nor the lead local flood authority, Lancashire County Council, had objected. However, the meeting heard that United Utilities has an obligation to connect to developments to its sewer network.

Meanwhile, Andre Baron, chair of Rivington and Adlington brass band, said that the promised purpose-built premises for the group - to replace their current 60-year-old home - would be “unattainable” without the development.

Committee member Alistair Morwood, who is also the cabinet member for planning, said that the council had lost “every one” of the appeals it had fought against refusal of permission for housing on safeguarded land in recent years - and was even unable to find legal representation on one occasion.

However, fellow committee member Gordon France proposed rejecting the application on the basis that it had not been shown that there was adequate capacity within the sewer network to cope with the increase in demand from the development - and over concern that the proposed use of reconstituted stone for the properties would be “harmful to the character of the area".

The indicative refusal was approved by eight votes to two, with two abstentions. The application will be decided by the Planning Inspectorate at a later date.

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