Chorley leader urges government to overturn village housing decision
The leader of Chorley Council has called on the government to overturn a decision by one of its own planning inspectors giving the go-ahead for a controversial new estate in Euxton.
Alistair Bradley has written to ministers asking them to “search their conscience” after a ruling in August granted permission for 180 homes on land off Pear Tree Lane.
Gladman Developments Limited's bid to build on the plot has been refused on three occasions since 2016 – twice by the council and once on a previous appeal to a different inspector.
Cllr Bradley’s letter also urges the government to rethink “fundamentally flawed” changes to housing targets that would force the borough to deliver hundreds of extra homes every year.
Chorley, Preston and South Ribble councils earlier this year renewed an agreement that sees them pool and redistribute their individual totals – as set by the government’s own methodology – according to their own needs.
Under that arrangement, Chorley’s annual share of development more than halved to 278 dwellings from the 569 homes it would otherwise have had to build.
However, the planning inspector in the Pear Tree Lane case concluded that the so-called “memorandum of understanding” was only of limited value, because it had not yet been tested as part of the process for creating the first Central Lancashire-wide local plan, due in 2023.
The decision meant Chorley needed to allocate more land for development, bringing into play the Pear Tree Lane site, which had previously been safeguarded from building at least for the duration of the borough’s own existing local plan.
Having been advised that there was no legal avenue open to the authority to challenge the outcome, Cllr Bradley in his letter appeals to communities secretary Robert Jenrick to intervene and reconsider a decision that effectively “[opens] up the whole of the borough to development”.
“We are not against development, but it has got to be done in the right place at the right time. Otherwise we risk piecemeal development that puts a huge strain on already stretched public services, does not allow infrastructure to keep up and diminishes the quality of life for our residents which is hugely important to them,” he writes.
The district leader also urged a rethink on a recent revision to the government’s housing target calculations which would see Chorley’s tally – prior to any redistribution with its neighbours – balloon yet further to 771.
The change to the “standard method” – a policy introduced just 18 months ago – includes taking into consideration an area’s existing housing stock when calculating its future needs.
However, Cllr Bradley said that the resultant figure for Chorley was “unsustainable” and “baked-in” its good record of housing delivery, having exceeded its targets for a decade.
Eighty percent of land in the borough is classified as greenbelt, the highest proportion of the three Central Lancashire authorities.