A RADCLIFFE firm that is “bulging at the seams” has threatened to leave the town unless it is given permission to expand onto green belt land.

Mr L Booth, managing director of Constructional Plastics Ltd, told a public inquiry at Radcliffe Town Hall this week that unless his company was given permission to build a new storage building in Mount Sion Road, they would be forced to move.

Lancashire County Council has already refused one planning application from the firm, which manufactures expanded polystyrene, on the grounds that the new building would encroach onto a protected green belt area.

Mr Booth told a government inspector that he wanted to clear dangerous and derelict buildings on the site, and that the firm was repeatedly targeted by groups of children breaking windows.

He said: “If we are refused permission for a storage building in Radcliffe and have to move to Northumberland, we may relieve the green belt in Radcliffe, but clutter up the roads instead when we transport the material back to our markets in this area.

“It is difficult to describe the almost pathetic impression one gets of dereliction, broken-down buildings, and over-grown grass in the area.

“We are seeking to improve the area we occupy. If we are turned down, we will have to leave.”

Because of their current shortage of storage space, the company is currently operating at only a third of its capacity, with bosses also looking at potential new sites in Yorkshire and Wales.

Mr A Crane, speaking on behalf of the county council, said: “I consider a green belt strip essential in this part of Lancashire, where towns are cheek to jowl.”

He added that while the river valley did not currently present the most pleasant of views, the planning authority considered it essential to prevent any further development in the area.

He also stressed the importance of a long-term plan for the area that takes into account tentative proposals to reclaim large areas of land in the Irwell Valley.

Mr Booth replied that he was under pressure from the current landowner to buy up the land, who said he planned to lease it to scrap metal merchants.

After the hearing, inspectors visited the site and will report back to Whitehall officials ahead of a final decision being taken.