‘Seven days a week, bang, bang, bang’: Upholland gun club plan sparks fears over safety and ‘appalling noise’

Gun Rights

A pistol club’s planning application to keep wooden and wire basket walls that were installed without permission has raised objections about alleged gunfire noise disturbance to residents, traffic issues, safety for walkers and children, and wildlife in the area.

South West Lancashire Pistol Club, based at Farley Lane, Roby Mill, Upholland, is seeking retrospective planning permission to keep wooden fencing and wire baskets filled with recycled rubber at the site. The application has been submitted by Christie McDonald of Steven Abbott Associates in Chorley.

Borough councillors on West Lancashire Council’s planning committee will consider the plans this week. Planning officers say the fences and metal baskets are acceptable and are recommending councillors approve the pistol club’s application.

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However, a number of residents have objected and Conservative borough councillor Katie Juckes has ‘called-in’ the application, asking councillors to look at it in detail. A planning report to the committee states: “Nine letters of objection have been received. Concerns have been raised regarding an increase in the size of the club, an increase in traffic, the speed of traffic, noise, that the tyre shred used in baskets could be a fire hazard, safety at the club and removal of local woodland.”



One objector is Karen Hurst of Roby Mill. In a letter to West Lancashire Council, she states: “Seven days a week, bang, bang, bang. This is constant. The noise is loud and I have two dogs that get upset when the guns are fired. Roby Mill is a quiet little peaceful village and does not need any more noise pollution. I am strongly against this application.”

Kate Dickinson, of Crow Lane, Dalton, has written: “The pistol club is now guns, rifles and proposing bows is out of control. The noise level is appalling . The fact that they [customers] leave the car to unlock the gate, with the gun in the car is a concern. There is a playground opposite and a school.

“This is a residential area. Noise is unbearable . It ruins any time you would like to relax in the garden. My husband can hear the noise with his ear defenders on.

“We have lived here since 1979 when there were probably five members who shot on Wednesday afternoon and Sunday morning . We had never been consulted. I feel we are being abused as residents. The parish council should most certainly have consulted with residents on Bank Brow, Farley Lane, Crow Lane, The Beacon and Long Heys Lane. It can be heard at Dalton Church.

Her letter adds: “Trees have been removed. The quarry extended. The wire baskets do not appear stable. Pedestrians have a right of way. I strongly object and expect a proper enquiry as to why is this being allowed.”



However, Elizabeth-Anne Broad of Dalton Parish Council said the parish has no objection to keeping walls. She has written: “Their specific use is not mentioned but we imagine they go some way to stopping noise transmission. Noise can regularly be heard at the opposite side of Dalton and obviously residents complain about it, especially as there are no restrictions around hours of operation.”

Robert McNeill of Dewberry Fields, Skelmersdale, wrote: “I wish to object. I may not live in the village but I can certainly hear the clay pigeon shooting each month. If the wind is blowing in our direction, it can be heard when we have the bedroom windows open.”

And Angela Williams of Shevington Moor, Standish, stated: “The construction visible from the footpath since the removal of the woodland is not in keeping with landscape. Since work appears to be ongoing, I hope these trees will be replaced.

“My concern is with the amount of vehicles and their speed using the public footpath, which has increased in the last 10 years. There needs to be separate vehicle access.”

John H Watson, of Bayswater in London, stated: “The area relating to this planning application is mixed woodland, of which an area has been cleared for this construction. Is the tyre shred material suitable for this type of construction due to fire risk, as stated in the National Rifle Association Range Manager’s Guide and journal?”

And Chris Cull of Herons Wharf, Appley Bridge, wrote: “I object to these plans. I live 3/4 miles away from this shooting range in Appley Bridge and the noise we hear is honestly ridiculous. Non-stop banging at weekends. Once a month when clay pigeon shoots are on it’s even worse. It must be so awful for the residents of Roby Mill. It’s bad enough living a couple of miles away. If more ranges are granted. I dread to think how worse this will get.”

DISTANCE FROM HOMES

A West Lancashire Council planning report states the pistol club site is reached through a private gated track, near number 25 Farley Lane. The site itself is located to the north-east of Farley Road near Stonehall Lane.

The report adds: “The application seeks to regularise walls bounding the site which were erected without planning consent. The walls consist of both gabion baskets [metal mesh baskets] and close board timber fencing. The walls are a replacement for berms [grass embankments].

“Two sets of gabion baskets are proposed to be retained. Both are 2.5 metres high and 1.5metres in depth. The gabion basket to the east is 21 metres long while the gabion basket to the west is 28 metres long . The baskets are constructed of a wire mesh and filled with recycled rubber crumb. The close board timber fencing measures 2.1 metres high and is 24.5 metres long.”

The report states South West Lancashire Pistol Club is an established business with historic planning consent for the land.

Planning officers believe the fencing is acceptable. The report adds: “The gabion walls and fencing would have no greater impact on the openness of the green belt than the berms which they replace. In this instance, the retention of the proposed walls is considered to comply with planning guidance.”

Planning officers say development such as this is allowed if it keeps or creates reasonable levels of privacy and amenity for neighbours. The pistol club is over 300 metres away from housing on Farley Lane.

It adds: “Given the distance between the site and the house, the walls to be retained do not appear overbearing or over-dominant. The walls would have no detrimental impact on the amenity of the nearest homes.”

‘MATTERS OF CONCERN’

Regarding other issues, the report adds: “Several matters of concern around how the pistol club operates have been raised by residents. However, for the most part, the concerns do not relate to the proposed retention of the walls.

“A number of dead trees have been felled for safety. These were not subject to a tree preservation order so consent was not required for their removal.

“Concerns have been raised that the shredded tyre used within the gabion baskets could be a fire hazard. The baskets are to replace existing berms. They are not to provide a rifle range back-stop. However, it is understood that the operation of a shooting range is governed by separate legislation that is outside the remit of the planning system.

“The pistol club has said it is not increasing in physical size or membership, so there will be no increased traffic. Whilst this is noted, this proposal only concerns the retention of walls.

“Comments have expressed concerns regarding the speed of vehicles using the gun club and how this conflicts with farm machinery and pedestrians. This falls outside the remit of planning.”

Councillors will consider the application at their meeting in Ormskirk on Thursday, November 24.

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