Tempers boil over as house plan approved

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The row over a new housing development for Bowgreave came to a head when plans were finally approved.

Campaigners packed out Wyre Civic Centre in opposition to housebuilder MCI Development’s application to build 20 new affordable properties on land off Garstang Road, Bowgreave, near to Garstang Community Academy.

Wyre councillors voted in favour of the housing scheme which will see the building of 14 three-bedroom houses and six two-bedroom homes.

Eight of the three-bedroom homes will be available for shared ownership, with the remainder designated for rent.

A group of eight objectors, neighbours from the surrounding Topiary Gardens, Bowgreave Drive and Garstang Road addressed councillors with their concerns, particularly in regards to child safety around Garstang Road at school time.

Resident David Butcher from Shepherds Avenue spoke of 15 accidents on the road from 2004 to 2009, with five involving pedestrians.

He said: “Garstang Academy have recorded their concerns for child safety but the impact of a further 30 to 40 cars makes an already dangerous situation even more hazardous.

“We do not believe all these hazards have been mitigated.”

But tempers flared when Coun Pete Murphy, for Brock, who spoke in favour of the project, rejected claims that the area was an accident blackspot. He said: “It has never caused a problem for the 200 children who walk on that side of the road to school and there have been very few accidents.

“I can’t see a small type development like this causing a traffic problem. These developments are there to help local people and are used by local people.”

Planning committee chairman Coun David Henderson a number of times had to tackle interruptions from members of the public during the meeting, which saw the planning committee debate the issues of potential flooding, threats to wildlife and the argument over the need for affordable housing in the area.

Barnacre Parish Coun Norman Howell said the parish council fully supported the protests of residents and felt the developers had ‘totally disregarded’ the parish in their plans to improve play facilities at nearby Catterall Playing Fields with a £26,798 grant.

He said: “They failed to attend any of the meetings to discuss their plans and there has been no consultation.”

Garstang Wyre Coun Dulcie Atkins said she was disappointed with the breakdown in communication between the parish council and developers.

She said: “I do find the scale of this development very intrusive and I’m disappointed the parish council did not sit down with the developers and wonder whether they had done that both sides could have found a compromise. I find it very difficult not to approve this scheme but I am disappointed with a number of things that have happened during this consultation.”

Coun Henderson said following the success stories of other similar developments, including the housing project at near-by Claughton-on-Brock, further homes would present an opportunity to help local people onto the housing ladder.

Coun Paul Moon echoed the sentiments. He said: “We can’t get away from the fact in this day and age it is getting harder and harder for our children to stay and live in the area they were brought up.

“We are very lucky to live in this area and I don’t want to see children of the borough having to move away and I feel this is a real issue.”

But ward councillor for Calder Coun David Williams, who voted against the application, highlighted his concerns for the demand of local residents for the housing and for the lack of safety measures on Garstang Road.

He said: “I am not happy with this at all and I’m very concerned with the way this has been dealt with.

“Nothing has been done to improve an extremely dangerous situation on the road and I find it incredible we are still in the same position, with minimal progress after all these years.

“It now seems ideas will be taken up but only because they have to.”