Planning meeting ‘positive’

Land off Mowbreck Lane, in Wesham, where councillors are fighting plans to build homes.
Land off Mowbreck Lane, in Wesham, where councillors are fighting plans to build homes.

HELP may be on the way to allow Fylde Council to beat off a rash of planning applications after a council-led delegation met Planning Minister Nick Boles.

A meeting was called after national changes to planning rules meant that council planners must grant planning permission for 489 houses per year in order to demonstrate a five-year supply of land for housing.

Until last year, the nationally-set target was for 306 approvals. Failure to have a five-year supply leaves the borough open to expensive appeals by developers.

Coun Trevor Fiddler, Fylde Council cabinet member for planning and development, said: “We made a strong case against what is a draconian policy and Mr Boles appeared sympathetic. We now have to wait for his written response and his written proposals which he has agreed to send.

“Residents in Fylde need reassurance that their countryside has a future. It’s harder for councillors to give that reassurance if we can’t demonstrate we have a five-year supply of land.

“We told him that one of the reasons we now had to approve more houses per year was because of advice from his department, which shows how we had to take into account an accumulated deficit going back to the start of 2003. We
feel such an extensive backlog does not need to be taken and this would cut the house-number target by 1,000 and make it easier for us to resist development.”

“He said he would instruct the Planning Inspectorate to make contact to help us in the interpretation of government advice.

“He also said the Planning Inspectorate would try to work out ways for councils to produce district plans faster – making it harder for developers to win appeals against planning refusals on the grounds that plans are not complete.

“Mr Boles also commented on the previous target of 306. He said he wanted us to have the confidence to come up with our own figure – and said he would look on that sympathetically.

“The meeting was very positive.”

Monday’s meeting was attended by Coun Fiddler, Nick Boles MP, Mark Menzies MP, Paul Walker, Fylde Council’s director of development services and Mark Evans, Fylde Council’s head of planning and regeneration.