In the second part of a special feature looking into the future of Farington Moss, KAY TAYLOR attends a planning meeting where councillors admit they are ‘feeling pressure from the developer’ to avoid an appeal hearing.
Making their final pleas to stop Bannister Lane being used for traffic, residents spoke of their frustration that the ‘developer is controlling the council’ and has ‘no regards to the people who live in the area’.
Councillors sitting on the planning committee expressed their regret at having to give approval to the scheme, but said they had no other option under the circumstances.
Resident Mr Costa, from Bannister Lane, said: “We have a vested interest in Bannister Lane remaining a lovely place to live.
“The alternative option of building a new road from Flensburg Way is an excellent idea, and would demonstrate the long-term commitment from planners not to use Bannister Lane.
“It would satisfy the residents of Bannister Lane and Croston Road, who are most of the objectors.
“It is a dangerous precedent to set [using Bannister Lane]. Once it becomes a road, it will always be a road.”
Ian Braddock added: “It’s worthwhile councillors remembering they approved a masterplan with no access allowed to Bannister Lane at all.
“Approving this would mean over-riding something which has been approved a few months ago.
“In my opinion, temporary should be less than 12 months, but this could be for four years.
“My concern is that there is no guarantee when the spine road will be in place.
“All in all, this should be a non-starter until the spine road is in.”
Dad-of-two Matthew Hall, from Bannister Lane, said: “There are plenty of people on the lane with young children, and one of the reasons we bought the house four years ago was because it was a safe area for our children to play out on their bikes.
“I truly hope this doesn’t go ahead.”
In recommending the committee give the nod to the scheme, council planning officers explained: “As the committee is aware, any recommendation of refusal of planning permission needs to be supported by sound planning reasons of why a proposal is not acceptable.
“At a planning appeal these reasons require evidence to support them and this evidence will be examined by the planning inspector.”
They added: “This is clearly a complex and difficult case raising a number of issues and concerns for [committee] members and residents.
“It is officers’ view that based on all the material consideration ... that there are no robust grounds for refusal.”
Sitting on the planning committee, Leyland councillor Derek Forrest said: “If we refuse this now it will go to appeal and we will lose, incurring more costs against us. That is not an option.
“The whole suggestion of using Bannister Lane is bananas, and goes against everything we have tried to do.
“But whilst we can’t stop Bannister Lane being used for access, we can provide a light at the end of the tunnel with the spine road, when Bannister Lane can revert to being a little haven of peace.
“This is the best of a bad job, but I hope residents see that the council has done all it can to alleviate these problems.
“It is not ideal, but there is no other option.”
Farington councillor Graham Walton, who is also a member of the committee, said: “I’ve fought this from day dot, even before the site became building land under the LDF.
“I believe the sentiment from residents. We have battled left, right and centre, but everything seems to have fallen on deaf ears.”
But he added that the committee’s hands are tied, as they are “fighting planning law”.
Chair of the committee, Coun Jon Hesketh, said to the residents: “We do feel for you but we’re feeling pressure from the developer.
“If this goes to appeal we will most certainly lose, and then we will lose all control.”
Resident Frank Hunt, of Leyland Lane, concluded: “The council knew full well when it assigned this land for housing that once the developers came in, they would do what they want with no regards to residents whatsoever.
“I don’t know how you can justify what you have done, knowing what would happen.
“Now you’re saying you’re tied by planning law, and it appears you have no say in this.
“The developer is running this now.”