Airstrip approval is called in

The airstrip at Kenyon Hall Farm in Lowton
The airstrip at Kenyon Hall Farm in Lowton

A planning application to allow a flying club to expand the use of an airstrip has been called in following huge opposition from residents.

Lancs Aero Club gained permission from Wigan Council’s planning committee to use its Kenyon Hall Farm runway in Lowton 365 days of the year.

“We’re going to do our best to ensure this proposal doesn’t fly.”

Coun James Grundy

However, the planning inspectorate will now decide if the secretary of state will take another look at it due to the considerable interest from residents, with 30 letters in favour and 190 objections being received by Wigan Council.

The objectors want the minister to scrutinise the application as the airstrip is next to the Highfield Moss site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and because the conditions attached to the approval include creating a hedge-topped ridge on the site boundary.

Wigan Council expressed surprise that the decision had been called in following the meeting last Tuesday.

Assistant director for planning and transport Mike Worden said: “The planning committee agreed that planning permission for the airstrip should be granted subject to conditions.

“However, the secretary of state has asked that the council holds off issuing the consent until he has considered whether he wishes to call the application in for determination himself.

“This is a highly unusual position and is very exceptional. We will await feedback from the secretary of state which we would expect to receive reasonably quickly.”

Coun James Grundy, Conservative ward representative for Lowton East, said he hoped the planning inspectorate would hold a full public inquiry as he believed the council had acted incorrectly approving the plans.

He said: “If you can start putting airfields next to an SSSI that’s a nationally-significant issue and so is fencing off common land. There are a range of other issues as well.

“We’re going to do our best to ensure this proposal doesn’t fly.”

Councillors opted to restrict flights to 35 per week and prevent planes taking off before 10am or after sunset.

The committee heard sporting facilities could be placed in the green belt and the facility had minimal impact on agricultural land.

The club, which also wants to keep a container on site, lay out a car park and improve the access track onto Winwick Lane, invited anyone concerned about the planes flying to visit the site.