A marathon day revisiting planning applications has seen Preston City Council “take back control“ of housing which is crowding into its rural villages.
While planners waved through proposals for 1,572 homes in the city centre and at brownfield land, crucially it saved villages North of Preston from being swamped with 944 houses.
The city council’s planning committee shifted through 15 sets of proposals yesterday - among them giving the green light to a 21-storey high rise Loft Haus sporting 299 apartments in Great Shaw Street, Preston and 750 homes at the Former Whittingham Hospital site.
But councillors also voted to reject developments which could have brought a total of 944 houses to rural areas including Whittingham, Goosnargh, Broughton and Barton - much to the relief of residents who have long campaigned against the “overdevelopment” of their neighbourhood.
Michelle Woodburn, of Whittingham and Goosnargh Against Overdevelopment, said: “It’s amazing with a big turn around with the council.
“It’s the result that we wanted right at the start however we know there’s going to be appeals. We are not disillusioned by the fact that we have won.
“We know that the fight is not over yet. We know developers are going to appeal but we are enjoying a bit of respite.
“We will keep fighting, we won’t give up. It continues.
“They can’t keep changing their minds.”
The reason the planning applications were being revisited was because of a recent landmark ruling from an inspectorate on housing needs for the area.
Prior to the inspectorate’s ruling, councillors often found themselves hamstrung, forced to pass applications into the face of angry local opposition in order to meet strict Government targets for housing land supply.
That changed following an appeal decision in South Ribble over plans for 100 homes at Chain House Lane in Whitestake when a ruling from an inspector provided a breakthrough for residents.
It meant Preston City Council could change how it calculated its housing land supply, with the target lowered from 507 to 410.
Consequently the 974 homes which had previously been recommended for approval were rejected at yesterday’s planning committee.
Coun Peter Moss said the ruling has meant that PCC has been able to “to take back control” of its decisions over whether or not to vote through planning applications - favouring city centre and brownfield developments, and proposals where other infrastructure such as roads are in place over allowing housing to be built in open countryside.
But he also warned: “Just because we have made these decisions today it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end of the matter.”
He was indicating that, even though the planning committee had refused the applications, developers would still be able to appeal their decision.
And the appeal could mean another planning inspectorate might find that Preston could not in fact demonstrate a five year land supply - effectively flipping the coin in favour of the developers again.
It remains to be seen whether house builders whose applications were rejected will appeal the decisions made yesterday.
Plans for a high rise apartment building named Loft Haus were given the green light. The plans include demolishing Foresters’ Hall in Great Shaw Street and replaced with a 21-storey building including 299 self-contained studios or apartments for students.
Perks will include a cinema room, study area, gym, roof garden, car parking and bicycle storage area.
Morris Homes have been given permission to build 48 one, two, three, four and five bedroom homes at land off Hoyles Lane and Sidgreaves Lane in the Lea and Cottam areas given go-ahead. A condition of the approval are contributions to the East/ West Link Road.
Bulwark’s plans for 280 houses at land off Riversway and west of Dodney Drive in Lea “compliment plans for the Preston Western Distributor Road” said officers.
County highways had objected to the scheme saying “a suitable access that is safe for all has not been provided”. The access is from Riversway.
But, proposing that the councillors go with the officer’s recommendation to carry the plans through, Coun Peter Moss said: “On planning grounds the traffic situation has to be regarded as severe - nowhere does it say that.”
An application that officers had recommended for rejection, a decision on plans for 30 homes on land adjacent to 329 Preston Road in Grimsargh was deferred until a site visit can be made.
Outlining proposals one officer said: “it fails to focus development at an appropriate location” and is “not the type of development permissible in the open countryside”. He also said the benefits of the scheme were considered “generic”.
Addressing councillors a speaker urged the committee to defer their decision until they had visited the site. She also referred to the council’s position on the housing land supply as a “freak occurrence”.
A huge development of 750 homes in at the old Whittingham Hospital Site in Whittingham was passed.
The plan by Homes England include a sports and social club and a primary school.
Coun Peter Moss acknowledged the plan departs from Preston’s development plan in some ways but said: “This is a brown field site and I think it’s really important that we approve this application.”
The application was unanimously approved.
Story Homes was given permission to slightly relocate 195 homes at land north of Eastway in Fulwood.
The house builders already have permission for 300 houses and Story Homes will now be able to add 29 homes to the site.
The site is close to where the new Sue Ryder specialist neurological care home is being built.
Coun Peter Moss said: “This is an applicant willing to listen to the concerns of residents and they have amended the layout accordingly.”
Plans for 65 homes at land at Whittingham Lane, Goosnargh were proposed by Setantii Holdings and rejected.
The Government secretary of state had issued a holding direction on these plans which meant it had been paused in case it would be called in for a decision.
One officer said the scheme would be an “unplanned expansion” of the village and would mean “a loss of open countryside.”
Michelle Woodburn, who has led campaign group, Whittingham and Goosnargh Against Overdevelopment, said: “We fiercely oppose overdevelopment”.
She also raised concerns about the increase in traffic.
The application was refused
Plans for 145 homes at land north of Whittingham Lane in Goosnargh by Gladman Developments. Again with this scheme, there was a holding direction in force.
One officer said benefits to the scheme have “limited positive weight”
Michelle Woodburn of Whittingham and Goosnargh Against Overdevelopment, said: “If allowed to go ahead these developments will destroy the character of our village.” She added: “Preston should not be bullied by these big developers.”
Addressing Michelle’s point about PCC being bullied coun Peter Moss said: “We base all our decisions on sound evidence and planning considerations.”
The plans were rejected by councillors.
Plans for 80 homes at land South of Whittingham Lane, Goosnargh, by Setantii Holdings were also refused.
The proposals included car parking area for Goosnargh Methodist Church with an access from Whittingham Lane. Applicant is Setantii Holdings. This was another application subject to a holding direction from the secretary of state.
The plans were tipped to be refused on the basis that the development would lead to an “unplanned expansion of the village and a loss of open countryside.”
Michelle is up at the speaker’s chair again stating her objections to the proposals. She said: “Preston City Council should not be held to ransom by greedy developers. They are taking advantage of the council’s position to make money for themselves.” She then urged developers to “build in areas that need this amount of homes” - she was referring to the Whittingham Hospital site. Plans for the homes were refused.
An 87 homes plan for land north east of Swainson Farm in Goosnargh Lane was rejected.
Michell Woodburn said: “Why would vast numbers of families want to live where there is no infrastructure?”
An agent speaking in support of the scheme for the homes said: “The only thing that has changed is the council’s interpretation of how it calculates its five year land supply.”
She said that Emery Planning does not agree that the council can demonstrate a five year land supply.
Proposals for 111 houses at land to the rear of 126A Whittingham Lane in Broughton were previously voted through by the planning committee.
After councillors previously voted the plans through this application was put under a “holding direction” imposed by the secretary of state which allows him to call the proposals in for determination.
Officers have now recommended the build to be refused.
Michelle Woodburn of protest group, Goosnargh and Whittingham Against Overdevelopment, said: “Surely enough is enough.”
Addressing the planning committee an agent from Emery Planning said: “This is a phase two development. Work has already been commenced on phase one. The principle of development has already been accepted.”
She also listed benefits of the build as a contribution to affordable housing and a significant bus contribution.
But the proposals to build were blocked by PCC’s planning committee
Applicant Gerald Gornall along with social housing provider Community Gateway Association, proposed 140 homes for Bushells Farm in Mill Lane
Similar to others, these plans are under a “holding direction” imposed by the secretary of state which allows him to call the proposals in for determination.
Officers advised councillors to block the application.
Michelle Woodburn stepped up to the speaker’s chair - again - and councillors joked it’s a” one-man show today”.
Addressing the planning committee she said the application is “totally unsuitable given it’s location”. She also said that it would be damaging “due to a lack of infrastructure”.
Michelle says while she appreciates Community Gateway is a “great organisation” homes need to be built where there is “sufficient infrastructure”.
A speaker backing the proposals said: “This is an opportunity to provide new homes and many benefits to Goosnargh.”
Coun Peter Moss told councillors he was “torn by this one, I’m not 100 per cent convinced of refusal”.
The proposals were rejected.
Wainhomes proposed 151 homes at land at Cardwell Farm in Garstang Road, Barton.
The agent speaking on behalf of the developer said the plans were a “logical extension” to Barton and said benefits included 55 affordable housing units, areas of public open space with a children’s area and cycle improvements on the A6 and a community building.
Registering his opposition to the plans being given the green light John Parker of Barton Parish Council said: “Let the planners plan for a better Preston. Don’t let planners be forced into decisions that are not necessary.
“We know that this development isn’t appropriate.”
The build was blocked.
Finally, 125 homes for land to the north of, Jepps Lane, Barton by Story Homes.
A residents of Jepps Lane said the development was “totally unnecessary” considering Barton had a “complete lack of village infrastructure” and has “no documented need for housing”.
John Parker of Barton Parish Council argued against the build being approved said: “We sympathise with the council and the planners. We want the council to take back control.”
Plan was refused.