Delay for Smithills homes decision
9:01am Friday 18th January 2013 in News
Last month, Bolton Council planning chiefs approved the scheme by Jones Homes to convert the grade II listed building and build 21 houses on surrounding greenbelt land.
Because the land is protected and a heritage site, Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, will have the final say and was due to decide within 28 days whether or not to “call in” the plans for him to inspect.
But Bolton Council said Mr Pickles has now asked for more time to decide whether or not he wants to look at the proposals. The building was originally built as the stables for neighbouring grade I listed Smithills Hall.
The plans have proved hugely controversial, with objections being raised by campaigners as well as English Heritage, the organisation charged with the protection of the country’s historic buildings.
The building had been used as a restaurant until it closed last August and it has since been targeted by vandals and metal thieves.
At last month’s meeting, the planning committee agreed with Jones Homes that its plans were the best way to preserve the future of the building.
Cllr Roger Hayes, who represents Smithills and has opposed the scheme, said: “I think it’s been delayed partly because of the Christmas and New Year break, but I hope it’s also because Eric Pickles is seriously thinking about whether he should call it in.”
A council spokesman said: “We can confirm that we have been notified that the Secretary of State requires further time to consider whether he wants the application to ultimately be referred to him for a decision.”