Chorley Council 'utterly appalled' by government censure

By Tim Aldred

22 Dec 2023

Chorley

Chorley Council has stated that it is "utterly appalled" by central government's condemnation of its planning approvals process.

Michael Gove, the secretary of state for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, said that Chorley Council, along with Fareham Council in Hampshire, "persistently underperformed" in dealing with planning applications and exhibited "poor quality decision-making".

Gove has now designated the council, which gives those seeking planning approval in Chorley the option to deal directly with his department and the planning inspectorate.

As Chorley Council states: "This would bypass the local democratically elected decision-making powers of the Chorley Planning Committee."

A recent study found that Chorley Council had 15.6 per cent of its major planning decisions overturned at appeal between October 2020 and September 2022 - a higher rate than other councils, most of which see fewer than 5 per cent overturned.

But council says it's merely standing up against unwanted speculative developments.

Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: "We are utterly appalled by the decision to designate Chorley for standing up against speculative and unplanned developments.

"The council, with the support from the MP for Chorley (Sir Lindsay Hoyle), have time and time again tried to highlight the issues Chorley is facing when it comes to planning, and to make it clear how the government’s changes to the planning rules have had a negative effect on our communities.

"Multiple letters have been sent, meetings have been held, and while we seem to have convinced government of the need for change - as they have at last published the new national planning rules - as a final kick in the teeth, they have decided to punish Chorley for standing up for local interests.

“We've been really honest with people that we have been fighting speculative development with one hand tied behind our back. We are not anti-development – far from it - we just think it should be locally led.

“This is proven by our consistent and continual homebuilding in line with government policy, figures which are unreasonably far higher than our neighbouring areas.

“Fellow councillors and I along with the MP for Chorley have met with the secretary of state and his staff and urge him to rethink his decision. We’ll share more information on our website as it comes to us.”

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