Creams Mill, Little Lever, Bolton
Local Planning Authority
Watson Homes is a local builder that wanted to deliver affordable housing on a previously developed site in the Green Belt – but it was not viable. Working as lead consultant, P4 set out a planning strategy and prepared a detailed planning application with EIA for a larger viable proposal that would deliver 255 desperately needed market and affordable homes and facilitate the repair of an historic (1936) breach to the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal, putting it back into water. This ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to restore the canal was supported by various stakeholders and, along with delivering affordable homes, formed the core of the planning case for ‘very special circumstances’ required to justify development in the Green Belt.
Planning permission was unfortunately refused in December 2021 and Watson agreed for us to submit an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. We led the appeal process and provided expert witnesses covering housing land supply and the overall planning balance at a two-week public inquiry in late 2022. We were delighted that the Inspector allowed the appeal in January 2023, accepting our planning case that very special circumstances did exist, enough to clearly outweigh the harm caused by inappropriate development in the Green Belt and so granted planning permission.
Watson Homes is progressing with discharge of relevant planning conditions and the project has since been shortlisted in the ‘Best Housing Scheme (fewer than 500 homes)’ category at the 2023 Planning Awards.