Bolton Council’s Planning Department has refused planning permission for a house to be built in Horwich’s Green Belt at Shepherds Drive, off Chorley Old Road after Horwich North East Labour Councillors, Richard Silvester and Kevin McKeon and 6 local residents all objected to the proposals. It was found that the proposals amounted to inappropriate development in the Green Belt and that there were no very special circumstances given as to why the openness of the Green Belt should be harmed. It is the sixth planning application at the site by the applicant since 2016 – all five previous planning applications were refused by Bolton Council with the following reason, ‘The proposed development represents inappropriate development within the Green Belt and the Applicant has provided no very special circumstances to outweigh the harm caused, and the proposal is contrary to Policy CG7AP of Bolton’s Allocations Plan as well as Section 13 of the National Planning Policy Framework’.
The last planning application was also dismissed upon appeal by the Planning Inspectorate who agreed that harm would be caused if building took place on the site and that the proposals did not justify its redevelopment for residential use. All applicants for planning applications within the Green Belt have to provide very special circumstances as to why they should be approved because the Green Belt has extra protection in place.
Despite local residents objecting to the application and the Planning Inspectorate making a precedent that no building should take place on the site, Horwich First Councillors on Horwich Town Council’s Planning Committee ignored and broke with this convention as instead they recommended approval of the planning application and the Horwich First Chair of Horwich Town’s Council’s Planning Committee even submitted a personal letter of support for the application, putting the Green Belt around Horwich at risk.
Horwich North East Labour Councillor, Richard Silvester said, “I was absolutely astounded at the decision and actions of Horwich First Town Councillors. It is a highly irresponsible and dangerous path to go along which now means that other developers could try their hand at Horwich Town Council knowing that these Horwich First Town Councillors are soft on the Green Belt, something that Labour Councillors have always stood firm in protecting. I am afraid that I have no confidence in the running of the Town Council; these Horwich First Town Councillors can no longer be trusted to defend the Green Belt around Horwich. Horwich First seem to want to rip up that crucial protection which sets a very bad precedent. The objections of local residents living in the vicinity of the planning application were also completely ignored by them. Thankfully the planning officer at Bolton knew that they were wrong and refused the application”.
Horwich North East Labour Councillor, Kevin McKeon said, “I am very pleased that the application was refused. I will always support local residents with legitimate objections to protect our Green Belt. I hope that this is now the last time that the applicant will submit plans for building on the site. It is the sixth time that their proposals have been rejected. Surely they will now get the message that it is just time to give up on the idea. If they don’t and try again, then they will find both myself and Cllr. Silvester objecting to any further proposals”.