COUNCILLORS have angrily condemned a giant building which rose up on the Wigan Green Belt without planning permission.
Consultants for the farmer behind the Bamfurlong project told the council this week that the barn will be used for storing grain to feed his own pedigree cattle although they failed to provide evidence of what head of cows he keeps to justify its size.
Neighbours who have been fighting the application fear it will eventually be used for his existing green waste subsidiary recycling business instead.
And they claimed to the planning committee it was a way of attempting to circumvent the development laws to allow an industrial structure to be built in the countryside.
The barn-like structure at Bryn Hall Farm off Bryn Gates Lane is more than 40m by 32m, and stands 7m tall. Senior planner Graham Dickman said it was sited in such a way that two sides were shielded from view by trees.
He said: “The building is of a type and scale typical of those found in agricultural locations and is appropriate development in the Green Belt. There is no evidence to demonstrate that the building will result in ecological harm, that it would result in noise nuisance or that it will generate significant levels of traffic which cannot readily be accommodated on Bryn Gates Lane.”
A spokesman for the applicant appeared before committee members in person to tell them that the barn was needed because of a serious flooding problem which cause fatalities among calves at another part of the farm business.
This had necessitated cattle being rehoused in the original grain store.
But a clearly furious Coun Steve Hellier told the meeting he found it “absolutely breathtaking” that a building of this scope could be built in the Green Belt without planning permission.
He said: “This is quite flagrantly driving a coach and horses through the planning system. If this gentleman had put in application before building it would have at least presented the officers with the opportunity for negotiation about the aspect of the structure and the materials and what have you.
“But it really pains me when we as planning councillors are put in this position with a retrospective building such as this. The residents are going to have to watch this building like hawks studying their prey to make sure that it is used for what the application states.”
Bryn Coun Ann Rampling pointed out that the farm business, which has over 3,000 acres in agricultural operation across the borough, must have put in “countless” planning applications for buildings during its time in operation. So she couldn’t understand why this building had been built without an application being lodged unless there was an “ulterior motive.” She said: “This operator isn’t stupid but he seems to be trying to take us for fools.”
But Coun Jeanette Prescott said the committee couldn’t allow what may happen to the building in future to influence their decision on what was being applied for: a cattle grain store.
Members eventually agreed to approve the scheme, retrospectively, 10-1, Coun Rampling oppsing it.