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Profound sympathy – but Green Belt comes first


TWELVE months after planning bosses rejected farmer John Cross’s plea for permission to build a bungalow for his disabled wife, a Government inspector has dealt him another cruel blow.
Mr Cross’s appeal against the decision has been rejected – despite the inspector admitting feeling “profound sympathy” for Mrs Cross.
The bungalow – which would have been built on Mr Cross’s own land at Cliffe Lane Farm, Cartridge Lane, Grappenhall – would “substantially and harmfully reduce Green Belt openness”, the inspector has ruled.
Mr Cross applied for permission to build the bungalow because his wife suffers from a rare condition, Multiple System Atrophy, which is expected to continue without improvement for the rest of her life, with a progressive loss of mobility. She is largely confined to a wheelchair.
He needs to live on the site to run the farm and also to care for his wife and also needs accommodation for an overnight carer.
The existing farmhouse is not suitable for conversion because the ground floor is on a number of levels with internal steps and also has steps leading into the house. Other farm buildings are also unsuitable for conversions and there is a sloping, cobbled yard which would present difficulties for a disabled person.
But the inspector says the possibility of extending the farmhouse, or an adjacent semi-detached property occupied by Mr and Mrs Cross’s son, has not been explored and that personal circumstances carry little weight.
Andy Farrall, Warrington environment director, said: “As in inspector noted, it is impossible not to feel profound sympathy for Mrs Cross and the impact her illness has had on her and her family.
“Such a predicament, however, is person circumstance – which does not amount to the very special circumstances needed to outweigh the harm to Green Belt in this case.”


About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.


  1. One of which, I understand, is just a few hundred yards from Mr Cross’s farm! Talk is cheap, if people have genuine profound sympathy then they would have allowed Mr Cross to build the special bungalow. Have people no compassion anymore.

  2. As grey_man says…….there doesn’t ever seem to be a problem finding ‘exceptional circumstances’ for property developers. This seems to be the case with heritage sites as well as greenbelt.

  3. How can one bungalow ‘substantially and harmfully reduce Green Belt openness’. If I was the farmer I would be taking the Environment Director and his ‘person circumstance’ to the dreaded Yuman Rites court to see what it makes of this disgraceful decision.

  4. “Such a predicament, however, is person circumstance – which does not amount to the very special circumstances needed to outweigh the harm to Green Belt in this case.”

    However a big stuffed brown envelope would help enormously to secure planning permission, eh?

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