An application to build 700 homes on greenfield sites is expected to be submitted in a ‘matter of days’.
Developers Fox Land and Property (FLP) caused shockwaves last week when plans first emerged to create hundreds of homes; shops; a primary school; and football pitch on a 33-acre greenfield site off Wigan Road, between Clayton-le-Wood, Leyland and Bamber Bridge.
Residents were invited to a hastily arranged two-day public consultation on Friday and Saturday at nearby Lancaster Lane CE Primary School – but many people said they hadn’t even received the letter.
At the meeting, representatives for Fox Land and Property LLP, who already have permission for 300 homes next to the site, said that some type of development on the site was ‘inevitable’.
They said if their scheme – which they said would be submitted in November – didn’t go ahead then the alternative was a proposal from Chorley Council in the Local Development Framework (LDF) for 300 homes and employment warehouses.
Now residents have launched a petition against the Fox Land and Property’s scheme, which they say will cause traffic chaos and wipe out one of the few remaining green spaces between Chorley, Leyland and South Ribble.
Lorraine Alty lives in Cyclamen Close, in the Flowers Estate, and attended the consultation to gather signatures.
She said: “It seemed to me that the consultation was slanted as if the development was going to go ahead no matter what we said.
“The consultation was sent out by second class post from Stoke on October 25.
“I got mine on October 28 but a lot of people didn’t receive one at all.”
Fox Land and Property set a deadline for responses to the proposal by Friday – the day BEFORE the exhibition at Lancaster Lane CE Primary School took place.
Ms Alty claimed: “It’s been railroaded through. I told the developers ‘you don’t want our opinions’. I think it was a tick-box exercise.”
Fellow resident Janine Keeble added: “I think the general feeling is that we are not being given the chance to organise ourselves to fight back against it.
“We think they (the owners) are trying not to draw too much attention to it because it is going to be unpopular.
“The more people that are aware about it the better, because it will be another Buckshaw Village on the outskirts of Leyland.”
Ms Alty said that the residents had numerous concerns but the main one was traffic.
“The developers say they’ll widen the junction on Lancaster Lane and Wigan Road but I don’t know how they intend to do that.
“Lancaster Lane is already a car park. Fox Land and Property already have permission for 300 homes so this plan increases that to 1,000. That would be terrible because the roads can’t cope now.
The Manchester-based developers were given the green light by a planning inspector to build 300 homes on the same site off the A49 earlier this year after Chorley Council failed to make a decision in time.
Visitors to the exhibition on Friday and Saturday were told that the alternative to Fox Land and Property’s proposal was a mix of homes and warehouses by Chorley Borough Council, which would involved extensive landscaping.
A spokesman for FLP made no mention of why residents have been given just a few days to respond when contacted by the Guardian.
He said: “Our initial consultation leaflet suggested comments should be returned by November 4, 2011.
“We find it useful to include a deadline for this initial consultation as the views of the local community are essential in helping us to understand local issues and aspirations. These comments are fed to our consultant team and help shape our master plan.
“It is very important to us that we understand constraints, opportunities, aspirations and concerns of the local community prior to the public consultation event in order that we can research and address issues that are particularly important to the public and are able to respond to these issues at the time of the exhibition.
“Public comment will be welcomed after the consultation event via letter or email.”
Coun Alan Cullens, who is responsible for planning at Chorley Council, said: “For a proposed development of this size we would always encourage developers to carry out pre-application consultation with residents so when it comes to formally submitting a planning application any local concerns can have been taken into consideration.
“When a planning application is submitted there will be the usual consultation as part of the planning process where people will be able to submit their comments to the council.
“It’s important to stress that although the council did not make a decision in time with the 300 homes application, that’s because the Highways Agency asked the council to put the decision on hold.
“The decision to approve that development was made by a planning inspector based on all the evidence before him including the council’s subsequent reasons for refusal that supported residents’ concerns.”
If you want to send in your views on the scheme: firstname.lastname@example.org