ANGRY residents who have campaigned against new homes on Green Belt land said their views had been ignored after the council revealed its amended Local Plan for the next 15 years.
The council said it had made changes in its Local Plan Publication document, which when adopted will run until 2027 and includes policies covering everything from provision of housing to creating new jobs and Green Belt release, after taking into account comments made during the public consultation earlier this year.
One new proposal would see Ormskirk and Burscough connected by a new linear park – a path for walkers, cyclists and horse riders with disabled access – through land at Grove Farm in Ormskirk. It comes as a result of changes to the Green Belt allocation for development on the Grove Farm site to allow for a better development proposal. But despite 471 objections, plans for 500 new homes on Green Belt land on Yew Tree Farm in Burscough remain.
Planning officer Peter Richards said that no new evidence has been submitted to alter the justification for preferring this site over other options for a strategic site or several smaller sites.
But Stephen McCloskey, of Burscough Action Group, said: “It’s a total whitewash and a wholesale disregard for what residents are saying. It seems all they have paid any attention to is developers concerns over Grove Farm and not the hundreds who have campaigned over the loss of Green Belt land.”
Michelle Blair, also of the group, who helped collect more than 2,000 signatures against the plans, said: “It’s quite shocking they said they have listened to feedback. That really doesn’t seem to be the case.The nature of the consultation has caused a lot of concern too. But we’ll continue to fight this and will be involved all the way through.”
Margaret Jennings, who opposed proposals for development on Mill Lane, Up Holland, for which there were 174 objections, said: “Not enough was done to get the views of older people here. I don’t feel they have listened and the time scale wasn’t there to representations from the older people across.”
Labour Group Cllr Kevin Wright said: “Resident’s opinions have been completely discarded in favour of developers. The only changes made from the very beginning of the consultation are in support of developers. Local councillors have met with residents, communicated their concerns but are apparently not being heeded. The objections and concerns of hundreds of residents, expressed by signing petitions, pre-formatted objections or making individual objections were given little real weight.”
Other alterations to the plan include changes in the document’s wording to strengthen the need to protect the vitality and viability of The Concourse in Skelmersdale.
Cllr Martin Forshaw, portfolio holder for planning and development, said: “We are very grateful to everyone who has given their views on the draft local plan. We have listened to everyone’s comments and made changes.
“We would urge everyone to take another look at the amended document and help us plan the best possible future for West Lancashire.”
The Local Plan will now go to planning on June 21, overview & scrutiny on June 28 and cabinet on July 18. If approved it will go out for an eight-week public consultation likely to start in August. Representations will then be submitted to the Secretary of State, along with the Local Plan document, for examination by a planning inspector.