Commuting from Lancashire to Manchester is easier by aeroplane says farm owner
Commuting from Lancashire to Greater Manchester by aeroplane is easier than driving, a farm owner told councillors during a meeting about storing a light aircraft in a building intended for agriculture.
Rossendale councillors said the application was unusual and asked about the regulation of private aircraft, flight safety and fuel arrangements.
Tony Whitehead, of Cribden End Farm, near Rawtenstall, wanted planning permission from Rossendale Council to change the use of the farm building from agricultural only to a mixed use of agriculture, and domestic garage or storage, including keeping a light aircraft there for personal use.
But his application had led to 12 objections sent to Rossendale Council.
One person had asked if a Ryanair terminal would be the next development at the Cribden farm.
Other worries included potential dangers to Rossendale farm livestock, horses and the public; alleged low-flying, pollution and noise from the plan, storage of flammable materials on the farm, limited access and the development being out-of-character with the rural area.
However, there was also one letter in support, saying Mr Whitehead had brought positive changes to the old farm, which is being restored and is reached from a lane.
At the latest meeting of Rossendale Council’s development committee, planning officers said the application was acceptable and were recommending councillors to approve it with conditions.
Cribden End Farm , Rossendale. Drawings for light aircraft storage, Images submitted to Rossendale Council
Mr Whitehead has been working with a planning firm called Acorus Rural Property Services on the application.
Speaking at this week’s Rossendale development committee meeting, he said: “The application is for change-of-use permission so we can store domestic items in part of an agricultural building. The whole farm needs restoring – the land, the house, everything. We are trying to do things properly.
“We also want to store our personal, domestic transport. The light aircraft is classed like a motorbike or car. No fuel is stored at the site. The only fuel is in the aircraft fuel tank, like a car’s fuel tank.”
Speaking about the aircraft, he added: “This is like operating a classic car for a few days of the year. Many of the comments [by objectors] about flights are dishonest and made-up. The planning officer has recommended approval so I ask councillors to please support it.”
Mr Whitehead was asked how often he flew the aircraft.
He replied: “That’s a very subjective question. We are allowed to fly 28 days a year. But it depends on weather.
“Some people are worried about noise but the aircraft is quieter than a car. And it’s not as noisy as a tractor. We have had it out once or twice.”
Asked where he currently stored the aeroplane, he said he used City Airport at Barton in Greater Manchester. It was formerly known as Barton Aerodrome and is near the M60 motorway.
Mr Whitehead added: “It’s a 15-minute commute there. It’s easier to commute by air rather than in a car. It would be easier to store it and maintain it at Rossendale. The facilities at Barton are poor, I think. Simple as that.”
Coun Granville Morris, standing-in for another councillor on the planning committee, said: “I’m not familiar with aircraft. Do we have consultations with the air authorities and get verification about this? It could be deemed as close proximity to residential properties. Why do we not do checks in strange situations like this, to check this meets with the air authorities’ satisfaction on things like safety?”
Mike Atherton, Rossendale Council’s head of planning, said: “Use for light aircraft take-off and landing is allowed in the planning system as ‘permitted development’ for up to 28 days a year. In the planning process, we can only consider what the applicant is asking for at this stage. If this [flying] was to happen on more than 28 days a year, confirmation would be sought from the Civil Aviation Authority.”
Coun Liz McInnes asked for reassurances about fuel storage.
Another planning officer said she had visited the Cribden farm and no fuel was stored there.
Councillors approved Mr Whitehead’s application, allowing a mix of uses for the building including storage of the aircraft for personal use.