Developer fights back over plans for 115 homes in Cuerden

An appeal has been launched against Chorley Council's decision to throw out plans for 115 house off a country lane.

By Catherine Musgrove
Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 11:32 am

Monaco Nell Lane Ltd have appointed planning agent Litchfields to lead the battle to overturn the decision for the 3.45 hectare site off Nell Lane, Cuerden.

At the same time, Cuerden Valley Park trustees have resubmitted to plans to install a drainage pipethrough the park, serving the planned development, and for which trustees stand to secure a "direct financial contribution" from the housebuilder.

Locals say the appeal and application go 'hand in hand' and are organising a petition and public protest.

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Nell Lane, Cuerden. From Google Streetview.

Local councillor Sarah Elsy said the proposals were "disgraceful" and the pipleline would be an "environmental disatser".

>>>Read about the pipeline here.

In refusing the 115 home plan in October last year, Chorley Council said:

- Off-site works to make the access safe would have "an urbanising effect on the locality". This urbanising impact combined with the removal of important hedgerow would be harmful to the rural character of Nell Lane.

- The application didn't propose enough affordable housing.

- The application did not propose any contribution towards public open space.

Now the developer is back to get the plans through, and claims to have addressed all issues - even though key issues such as removal of 60m of hedgerow still remain.

In an appeal statement, Litchfields state that the land is “allocated and protected" for housing and highlight that the council "is unable to demonstrate a five year housing land supply by some considerable margin".

They also argue that the provision of 34 affordable homes represents a significant benefit that weighs heavily in favour of the proposed development.

The applicant has also agreed to pay an 'open space contribution' totalling £183,885, which is calculated on each home providing £1,599 towards playing pitches in the borough.

In terms of highways, the applicant proposes to either deliver a series of off-site traffic calming measures to deter people from using Nell Lane as a rat run, or to permanently close off Nell Lane to through traffic.

Litchfields argue the works will not have an urbanising effect on the character of the wider are as Nell Lane is "not a typical rural lane" and needs to be "read in the context of the existing park homes, and scattered residential development, as well as the committed residential development on the site which will inevitably come forward in one form or another."

In terms of hedgerows, the developer says that in order to facilitate the proposed access and provide the requisite visibility splays, approximately 60m of hedgerow will need to be removed.

To mitigate this, they propose extensive landscaping, both at the site entrance and within the wider site itself. The majority of trees and shrubs that run through the middle of the site from east to west are also to be retained.

The proposed pipe would be a surface and foul water drain for the proposed new homes, and would enter Cuerden Valley Park from Shady Lane, cross grazing land, skirting Ice House Woods and connect to the existing United Utilities sewer which runs through the valley.

Locals say that it will destroy wildlife, could worsen flooding downstream in the River Lostock, and the ecology report, which includes a daytime bat survery is inaccuate and flies in the face of well-known evening bat walks carried out in the park.

Before the application was made, Simon Thorpe, general manager of Cuerden Valley Park, said: "This is an opportunity to secure a direct financial contribution to the Park from developers behind planned housing growth in the area, to compensate the inevitable increased use of our fabulous greenspace and the wear and tear that this causes."

Cuerden Parish Councillor Sarah Elsy said: "This planning application is disgraceful . The pipeline will be an environmental disaster for Cuerden Park and the surrounding countryside.

"We must learn from the awful flooding in Germany . Developers must deal with surface water with attenuation tanks and not rely on organisations like the Park who are happy to take an income from sending a potential flooding disaster downstream of the River Lostock.

"Habitat, no matter if it is scrub or grassland , is valuable to the Ecology of this area. The report commissioned by the park identifies many valuable wildlife species living in this specific area. This excavation and tree removal will affect the wildlife in this area , neighbouring Shady Lane and ultimately further downstream in the River Lostock."

She added: "Having already had this destructive pipeline democratically rejected by Chorley Councillors twice, it is shameful that the park's management now see it fit to submit yet another costly application.

"It is no coincidence that this application has been submitted within days of Monaco Housing's Appeal to build 115 houses on Nell Lane. The two go hand in hand - no pipeline, no houses."

Councillor Mark Clifford, who also sits on the board of trustees for Cuerden Valley Park, has come out in support of the residents.

He said: "As ward Councillor and also Chorley Council’s Champion for Environment and Green Space I ask for residents to strongly object to the pipeline application.

"The River Lostock already floods several times a year and this flooding is destroying the natural riparian environment resulting in the loss of precious wildlife who call the riverbank their home.

"Climate Change is happening now and we cannot carry on with business as usual. Allowing the surface water from a 115 homes housing development to already enter a river being damaged by floods is ill thought out to say the least. It makes my blood boil.

"The pipeline application is frustratingly only here to serve a developer that has already had planning refused and I trust the planning inspector does not overturn this decision. Residents of Clayton-le-Woods and Cuerden love the natural beauty and important wildlife habitat of both Nell and Shady Lane and do not want these quintessential English Country lanes destroyed in the name of greed."