Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 2, 2018

Parrs Lane Planning Inspector Completes Inquiry

The remarkable fight to save Aughton’s finest agricultural land  is drawing to an end after around five years of a determination and refusal to concede to Aughton’s own councillors including capacity meetings in protest. As Colin Atkinson  of the Aughton Residents Group (2012) reports that “The Inquiry was closed at 2.50pm this afternoon, Friday 2 February. The site visit took place this morning and the Inspector witnessed the congestion around the sites including the school traffic in Town Green Lane” we recall the animosity the Local Plan caused in Aughton as we walked out in disgust! .

Colin, seen here speaking at one meeting has reported “We walked onto both field sites and the Inspector had a good look around aided by the developers’ layout plans. We walked up Parrs Lane and the Inspector said that he would also go into Sandfield Park to view the queried public foot/cycle path. He had previously visited Long Lane”. Many Aughtonians remember the people who came together to form the ARG2012, including Ian Forbes seen here  and the volunteers who delivered letters to the entire local area attending the meetings too. Who could forget the “Panto Jones” fiasco at the WLBC Local Plan meeting?

“The inquiry resumed at 1100 with the barristers making closing speeches addressing the 6 main issues identified by the Inspector at the start of the hearing, namely “Whether or not the proposed development accords with the policies GN2 and RS6 of the local plan and specifically whether any of the triggers for plan B have been activated”.

“The effect of the proposed development on best and most versatile agricultural land in light of the requirements of policy EN2 of the local plan. Whether or not the council can demonstrate a 5 year supply of deliverable housing sites.

“Whether or not specific policies in the NPPF indicate that development should be restricted to the sites in question. If the council cannot demonstrate a 5 year supply of deliverable housing sites and specific policies in the NPPF do not indicate that developments should be restricted, would any adverse impacts of granting planning permission significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the framework as a whole.

“If there is a conflict with the development plan, are there material considerations which justify granting planning permission?

“Mr James Mauricio QC (for WLBC) delivered his closing speech (45 pages of A4 paper) followed by Mr Paul Tucker QC (for developers) (39 pages of A4 paper). As you can imagine, the barristers gave their different versions/interpretations covering the main issues, number crunching and analysis of policies and statistics including totals of completions and the relevance of HMOS and Right to buy properties and the housing stock. The subject of affordable housing was also aired at length as was mention of democracy and localism.

“Both our Aughton Residents Group and Aughton Parish Council received mentions in Mr Maurici’s speech. Likely result? As we have previously found out, very hard to predict but I am still hopeful that the Inspector will find in favour of the council and dismiss the appeals.

“I asked the Inspector when his report was likely to be published. He was unable to give me a time scale other than to say he was treating it as a priority. I anticipate that it will be at least a couple of months before his decision is published, so all we can do is wait !!!

“The appeal documents including the QCs’ opening and closing speeches should soon be posted on the WLBC planning website and made available for viewing, (they will be on the site planning applications)”. The last battle in Aughton was the Civil War when the two sides met on Aughton Moss on August 20th 1635. The Parliamentarians won the day, and we Aughtonians also expect to win this battle too. 

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