Leigh housing plan that received almost 100 objections is thrown out

Councillors have dashed the hopes of a developer aiming to build homes on Underwood Square in Leigh for the fourth time after rejecting a plan that was opposed by almost 100 residents.

The plot of land was once occupied by a single house but a planning application was submitted to the council for permission to build four in its place.

The proposal sparked fury among neighbours who sent 16 letters of objection to the council along with a petition signed by 80 people. Their concerns centred on the “overbearing” design, the potential strain on parking and the possibility of congestion.

On Wednesday afternoon councillors on the council’s Development Committee unanimously refused to grant planning permission, making the plan the fourth planning application to be rejected for the site in just two years.

A council officer explained the reason for rejecting the plans lied heavily with the layout of parking spaces at the front of each house. He said it would leave no room for landscaping and would cause “too much hard surfacing”.

Councillor Carole Mulroney said: “This is a contrivance to get four properties on there. Underwood Square is an absolutely idyllic place in Leigh. We don’t find in many places like it, I think we have to accept there will be something on this site but the cramped parking being proposed and the almost total lack of landscaping means you’d lose all of that.

“I think all in all this is a really poor contrivance to get the number of properties on there and I am wholeheartedly against it.”

The application is almost identical to another that was rejected by the council in 2017. The only significant change is the size of the properties which in this application have been reduced by two metres.

When the application was rejected it led to an appeal process where the council’s decision was scrutinised by the planning inspectorate. The appeal was unsuccessful, and the inspectorate agreed with the council’s opinion that it would have “undue impact” and be “harmful” to the area.

Since then the same developer has sent in several other applications that have included proposals for a single two storey home and a chalet – all refused.

The only one to be successful has been an application to build three homes giving the developer until 2021 to build the homes before permission expires.

Cllr David Garston said: “We’re getting fed up to the back teeth with this one, every meeting we seem to have something else but I can’t for the life of me see why they can’t go ahead and get the three done because in the meantime the site is just empty.”

Cllr Chris Walker added: “Their planning permission is for three and I suggest we stick with it.”

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter