The Inspector in the Hartley’s Farm planning appeal has acknowledged that building 58 houses on Hartley’s Farm is not a suitable form of development; having regard to the Council’s Development Plan Strategy and the effects of such a development on the character & appearance of the surrounding area. He also acknowledges that there are significant traffic problems in the area, and also a flood risk.
I put all these arguments to the Inspector at the appeal; as did my colleagues, Cllrs Wild and Cox. Local residents also put these arguments. We thought we had all made a strong case against this development and it’s good to see the Inspector took all that into account.
However, he then was forced to put all that to one side because the Council admitted it does not have a plan for a 5-year housing supply. The Council has known it doesn’t have this 5-year supply for years now, ever since the Hill Lane, Blackrod appeal decision in 2016. Without a 5-year plan, the Inspector is required to allow appeals unless there is overwhelming evidence to prevent the development. We thought we had provided sufficient evidence but, sadly, he weighted that evidence a little less strongly than we did.
We don’t have a 5-year housing plan because Labour is still holding out on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework arriving; but that could be years away and it keeps getting pushed back. I called on the Labour-run Council to create an Interim Housing Plan that will protect Bolton from these opportunistic developments until the Spatial Framework finally arrives. Labour turned my request down, and this is the result that we all knew would come from that.
Once again, we are let down by a Labour Council that utterly fails to put the needs of the community before their own ideology. They are failing the people of our towns.