Blackpool donkeys win battle over their winter homes

Blackpool donkeys at Latham House Farm
Blackpool donkeys at Latham House Farm
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A controversial green belt development plan has been scrapped – securing the winter home of Blackpool beach’s donkeys.

Campaigner Gillian Morris says she is ‘ecstatic’ land in Wigan known as The Bell, which includes her farm, is no longer earmarked.

The latest draft of the city-region’s housing and jobs blueprint, the GM spatial framework (GMSF), was unveiled this week.

A first version, released in 2016, earmarked the land off junction 26 of the M6 near Orrell for housing and industrial development, sparking a community backlash.

But it has been removed from the latest version with Mrs Morris jubilant the farm’s donkey lodgers ‘have got a home for years to come’ and residents will not lose their valued green space.

The animals spend the winter months at Latham House Farm before returning to Blackpool for the summer season.

Mrs Morris, whose family has spearheaded efforts to prevent development on the green belt site, said: “We are ecstatic. It’s been a long time coming.

“It’s a nice way to start the new year, that’s for sure. We were concerned that things had gone quiet (with the new draft of the spatial framework) and there have been a lot of delays with it.

“We’ve tried to keep it at the forefront of everyone’s minds (since 2016).”

The revised version of the blueprint has cut the number of green belt used in the borough by more than half but some sites remain, including a vast industrial plot on land at junction 25 of the M6 near Winstanley and Bryn.

Council leader David Molyneux said ‘issues with deliverability’ had been identified with the plans for The Bell and that the town hall has listened to feedback from residents.

For Mrs Morris, it means the farm’s future is secured for her children and a line is drawn over a stressful period for the family and other campaigners.