Feb 7 2013 by Rob Pattinson, Ormskirk Advertiser
CONTROVERSIAL plans for 51 new homes in Rufford are set to be approved – despite widespread objections to the scheme.
R&J Pickavance’s application for a development on land off New Road is set to be considered by the council’s planning committee tonight.
A total of 77 letters objecting to the scheme have been submitted, with concerns raised over the impact on wildlife and loss of habitat, the appearance of Rufford and its impact on residents.
Rufford Parish Council has also objected, citing highway safety and drainage concerns.
While West Lancashire Conservation Areas Advisory Panel said the development would harm the village’s conservation area.
One letter of support backed the boost to the economy of the scheme.
The greenfield site was formerly worked as agricultural land and currently houses a row of greenhouses and former polytunnels, and is bound by Green Belt land to the south.
It is currently used for the occasional storage and repair of agricultural machinery.
In a report that will go before councillors at tonight’s meeting, borough planner John Harrison said the plans – which include 30% affordable housing – would cause “no significant harm” to the character of the area or adjacent conservation area.
He said the proposals contained a suitable drainage scheme and measures could be put in place to ensure there was no adverse impact on the wildlife habitats of water voles on the site.
The Environment Agency agreed to mitigation measures proposed, so long as they were enforced by planning conditions.
The officer’s report recommends the decision to grant permission be delegated to the borough planner, in consultation with the chair and vice-chair of the planning committee.
In the planning statement, the applicant’s agent claims that the development would have “numerous economic benefits”, resulting in a number of construction jobs.