A paintball site which has been operating on Leyland’s greenbelt land without permission for six years is finally set to get approval.
A lengthy debate over the future of Paintball Trax Ltd, which is based in Midge Hall, saw members of the public clash heads over the protection of a biology heritage site and the importance of providing an activity to keep youngsters off the streets.
The retrospective planning application was expected to be turned down at last Wednesday’s planning committee meeting, after South Ribble Council planning officers recommended permission be refused.
An application for the facility was previously turned down in March last year as it was considered the benefit of the activity did not outweigh the nature conservation issues.
But after hearing the applicant, Mike Collinge, speak about his family-run business, the committee indicated that the plans will in fact be approved, once a list of conditions are drawn up to address the conservation issues.
Speaking at the Civic Centre meeting, Mr Collinge said: “We understand that there are ecological issues on the site and we have done everything we have been asked to do by the county’s ecologist to help preserve the land.
“Plant and animal life are thriving due to the careful monitoring we do and we have had lots of local support.
“We are a local family who rely on Paintball Trax as our sole income, which enables us to pay a mortgage and contribute to the local economy.”
He added: “The area needs activities like ours to help keep kids off street corners, and a lot of our clients are from community groups, such as scouts, sports teams, colleges and schools.
“We also do a lot of charity work for underprivileged children.”
Around 30 members of the public attended the meeting to support Mr Collinge’s plight, and a round of applause broke out after his speech.
But some residents believe the application should be refused permission when it goes before committee again in a few weeks.
Eleven people wrote letters of objection to the scheme, while three representations were made in support of the plans.
Members of South Ribble’s planning committee agreed that the planning officers should draw up a list of conditions which must be adhered to if the plans are given approval, in order to protect the land.
The application will be put forward at a future planning committee meeting, when members can assess the plans alongside the new conditions, and vote on whether to grant the scheme permission.
They revealed they are ‘minded’ to approve it, and the paintball firm can continue to operate as normal until a decision is made.
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