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Tuesday, 05 March 2013 (3036014)
Council being treated as 'stooges' by developers claim residents' group
by David Simister

WEST Lancashire Borough Council have been treated as ‘stooges' by developers over the Local Plan, claim a residents group.

Aughton Residents Group, who fear it could lead to 200 homes being built on green belt land near the village were invited to speak at the public examination hearings into the West Lancashire Local Plan.

They said they believe the council has misled residents during its handling of the plan, which suggests where development could take place across the borough between now and 2027.

The group says the council had acted as “stooges” for developers by incorporating the scheme into the council's ‘Plan B' development scheme for the borough.

In a statement given to the hearings, Aughton Residents Group member Colin Atkinson described the developers as “illusionists” as they are going to “make a large area of Aughton’s prime green belt land disappear and then turn it into a housing estate.”

He added that residents had been distracted by attention being focused on what is going on in Burscough.

He said: “West Lancashire Borough Council, their stooge, has helped them by already giving in to pressures and declaring the Parrs Lane - east and west - sites are suitable for future development and recommending its release from the greenbelt.”

Ormskirk resident Ed Dickinson, meanwhile, who has also spoken at the hearings, accused the borough council of undermining its Plan A for future development - which focused largely on Ormskirk - in favour of its Plan B, which focuses largely on Burscough, by downplaying a report by one of its own advisors higlighting the benefits of locating development in Ormskirk.

He told The Champion: “The people were not advised of the Scott Wilson Associates report that it considered Option A the best option for the local economy. In almost every respect, Option A would be the better choice for major development and the council's preferred option of Burscough has proved extremely unpopular with it’s residents.”

Mr Dickinson said the public should be given a further opportunity to express their views before a decision is made.

West Lancashire Borough Council declined to comment on the criticism.


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