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Chorley traveller site to stay put for another three years

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A traveller site in Chorley will be permitted to remain in place for a further three years, following delays to the building of a permanent alternative by Chorley Council.

The community, living on Hut Lane in Heath Charnock, had been the subject of eviction proceedings between their arrival in 2009 and 2013, but has since been granted two time-limited permissions to stay.

The traveller site in Heath Charnock, photographed in 2015.

The traveller site in Heath Charnock, photographed in 2015.

The Linfoot family applied to extend their residence for five years and add two additional homes to the green belt site - but both requests were rejected by Chorley Council’s development committee.

A meeting of the committee heard from a local residents’ representative who described a difficult history between the travelling and settled communities in the area.

“It is common ground between us and the applicant that there are poor relations which are longstanding,” Paul Sedgewick said.

“There is very strong opposition to the application from the local settled community and we are disappointed that the council hasn’t been able to move more quickly to provide good accommodation for the travellers [elsewhere],” he added.

Patty Linfoot wanted permission for the traveller site to be extended for five years.

Patty Linfoot wanted permission for the traveller site to be extended for five years.

Government guidelines introduced five years ago require councils to identify and make provision for travellers in their areas. Chorley Council’s local plan identified land at Cowling Farm as a suitable site.

Patty Linfoot made a direct appeal to members to allow for any further potential problems in developing the proposed site.

“It would only take one delay for the whole thing to slip, “ Mrs. Linfoot said. “That means permission should be, preferably, for five years.”

She also asked the committee to give the family the flexibility it may need to accommodate additional members by allowing for seven caravans - including two mobile homes - compared to the five currently permitted.

“Our site is beautifully maintained - different from some people’s idea of a gypsy site,” Mrs. Linfoot said. She added that the plot could house the extra vehicles and cited the need of an elderly relative living in Blackpool who may need to move to the site in Chorley in future.

Several members of the cross-party committee expressed sympathy with the views on either side of the debate.

Cllr Alistair Morwood said: “I don’t see that allowing a couple more caravans for a short period of time would cause much more harm.”

Meanwhile, Cllr Paul Walmsley sought and received an assurance from council officers that a condition limiting the size of the site could be varied if and when specific “evidence” were provided.

A proposed amendment to remove the restriction was defeated, with members supporting planning officer recommendations that the site be granted a three-year extension, but no additional homes.

The meeting ended on an angry note when a member of the public objected to a question from committee chair, Cllr June Molyneaux, asking if members were “all happy” as they went to the vote.

The man - who was warned that he had not been granted permission to speak - said: “You did ask whether we were all happy.”

“I was talking to my members,” Cllr Molyneaux replied.