The owner of a Leyland paintball firm is ‘relieved’ that his business has finally been given the go-ahead to continue operating.
Paintball Trax has been using an area of Biological Heritage Site in Midge Hall for the past six years, without the relevant planning permission.
Owner Mike Collinge insists he has done all he can to preserve the land, and submitted a retrospective planning application to South Ribble Council last month.
Now, his plans have finally been approved, and he says a huge weight has been lifted off his shoulders.
“I’m very, very relieved,” he said. “The last 12 months have been so uncertain for us, but we can now start to invest in the business again and improve the site for our visitors.”
Mr Collinge, who runs the independent firm with his family, has now been issued a list of conditions to adhere to along with the planning permission.
The first states that ‘the use hereby permitted is temporary for a period of five years and shall be discontinued on or before October 31, 2017, and the land restored to its natural state.’
However, the council has explained that Mr Collinge will not necessarily have to leave the site then – but he will have to submit another planning application to continue using the land, as he has just done.
Mr Collinge said: “If I do everything I’ve been asked to do and meet all the conditions, I can’t see that the council would ask me to leave.
“It wouldn’t be fair for them to throw me off after I’ve spent thousands of pounds on the business; that wouldn’t be right.”
He added: “I always knew that it would be a case of the council saying, ‘jump’, and my response being, ‘how high?’
“Otherwise I would lose my livelihood.”
An application for the facility was previously turned down in March last year as it was considered the beneﬁts of the activity did not outweigh the nature conservation issues.
But now, the council has drawn up a list of ways in which Mr Collinge can protect the site, while still providing an activity and jobs for people in Leyland.
The plan outlines the areas which are allowed to be used for paintballing and areas for restoration, and surveys for protected and priority species must also be carried out by the business.
These include great crested newts, water vole, breeding birds and common toad, and the results will then be submitted to South Ribble Council for approval.
It has also been ruled that no tree felling, clearance works, demolition work or other works that may affect nesting birds shall take place between March and August, unless the absence of nesting birds has been confirmed by surveys or inspections.
And a detailed Traffic Management Plan must also be submitted to and approved by the council, after concerns were raised about the paintball users accessing the site off Midge Hall Lane, which residents in the area complained was already busy enough.
Lastly, the paintball firm must only operate between the hours of 10am and 6pm, ‘in the interests of the amenity of nearby residential properties’.