Fears over mass building

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Residents have raised concerns their village could almost double in size if developers continue targeting the area.

Last June, the draft Local Plan - Preferred Options, the blueprint for development in Fylde up to 2030, recommended 1,160 homes be built in Warton – a number which many residents said was simply too high.

Coun Trevor Fiddler

Coun Trevor Fiddler

While the plan continues to be finalised, developers have targeted the village, submitting applications which, if agreed to, could see up to 1,465 properties developed in Warton – 300 more than originally planned.

Jessica Ashworth, vice-chairman of the Warton Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, said the size and level of applications submitted showed it was “open season” on Warton.

She added: “Since the preferred option went out for consultation last summer, it has been open season in Warton, with a never ending queue of greedy developers, which Fylde Council has failed to control through their proposal to establish a masterplan.

“The reality is that, to date, 416 dwellings have been approved, with a further 409 pending decisions, and yet further imminent applications could give a potential total of 1,465 new dwellings, representing a 92 per cent 
increase in households, which is unacceptable to residents and unsustainable in a village of our size.”

Miss Ashworth added the classification of the village’s Warton and Westby ward as an assisted, or deprived, area has strengthened developers’ bids for housing developments, because they can argue that new housing will help 
improve the area.

She also said Warton Neighbourhood Plan’s Steering Group has worked to establish a housing masterplan figure of 638, which is likely to be ignored.

In recent months, applications for Blackfield End Farm, Clifton House Farm, Riversleigh Farm, the GEC Marconi site, Harbour Lane and Georges Garage have all been submitted to the council.

Coun Trevor Fiddler, cabinet member for planning and development, said the failure to establish a five-year supply of housing, a fixed figure for the council to use to protect over-development, had led to renewed applications from developers.

He added: “We have not been allowed to develop the Local Plan in a proper way. Developers are being encouraged by the Government to hand in applications.

“The Government is saying if you do not have a five-year supply, you leave yourself at risk. We have tried to provide a co-ordinated approach to housing. These ludicrous, rules we have to deal with have overtaken the Local Plan.”

Coun Fiddler said he felt sorry for people in Warton, but admitted the village has been a target for development for the last 20 years because of its BAE Systems site.

He added: “If it’s not Warton, then where does it go? Fylde Borough is powerless to prevent ad hoc developers ignoring the Local Plan proposals.”

But Miss Ashworth called Fylde Council’s performance “tardy” and said the council must start listening to residents in Warton more.