End of the road for Chorley caravan park's plan for static pitches

The operator of a touring caravan site in Chorley has been refused permission to convert the site into one for permanent pitches.

By Paul Faulkner
Thursday, 12th November 2020, 12:30 pm

It is the third time in four years that the Royal Umpire Caravan Park in Ulnes Walton has attempted such an overhaul.

The latest bid would have seen the greenbelt site reconfigured to accommodate 114 static pitches - a reduction from the 201 touring caravans currently permitted on the Southport Road plot.

The units would have been for holiday use only and not as permanent residences.

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The Royal Umpire Caravan Park wanted to change the way it operated (image: Google)

Unlike on the two previous occasions, Chorley Council planning officers backed the change, which this time excluded previously-planned expansion into an undeveloped field. They concluded that the case made by the 38-year-old business demonstrated the “very special circumstances” required to allow what would otherwise be considered harmful and inappropriate development in the greenbelt.

However, planning committee members disagreed - with one, Cllr Alan Whittaker, describing indicative images of the development as looking less like a static caravan park and “more like Stalag Luft 3”.

Rachel Leather, the agent for the application, said that the site was “visually contained and distinct from the more open countryside around it”.

She added that the proposed change would enable the business to stem declining occupancy rates and respond to a shift in the market - which has seen the popularity of static pitches increase - and so “ensure an important contribution to the local economy”.

Planning services manager Adele Hayes said that “the harm to the openness of the greenbelt is considered to be slight when one balances the current transient impact from up to 201 touring caravans against the permanent impact of 114 large static caravans - that is a judgement”.

However, it was not one shared by the committee.

Cllr Alex Hilton said that the plans had the potential to create “a new mini-village with permanent residents.”

“I don't believe there are special circumstances that would outweigh the environmental harm,” he added.

Lostock ward councillor Paul Sloan also warned that the development would lead to an increase in surface water run-off from the site - posing a threat to a nearby village.

“This will end up flowing into the River Lostock and...River Yarrow, the confluence of which is just downstream of Croston.

“It potentially increases the flood risk from the west of the village, which undermines the resources Chorley Council has invested in the Yarrow barrage, “Cllr Sloan said.

The committee voted unanimously against the application.

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