750 Lancashire homes approved after employment allocation dropped

A North West council has approved an application for 750 homes after deciding that an allocation for employment uses on part of the site was not likely to be delivered.

Visualisation of plans for former psychiatrict hospital site. Image by Homes England
Visualisation of plans for former psychiatrict hospital site. Image by Homes England

Last week, Preston City Council’s planning committee gave the go-ahead for an outline planning application from housing agency Homes England for the development on a 48.7 hectare former psychiatric hospital in Whittingham.

Alongside the homes, the application also proposes a sports and social club and a primary school.

The application was approved despite the fact the site was allocated in Preston’s local plan for 650 homes and 1.4 hectares of B1 business uses.

A report by officers said that "in considering the loss of employment land there are material considerations that indicate that the plan should not be followed".

The council accepted the developer’s argument that businesses would not be attracted to employment development on the application site "because of potential restrictions on operations due to the proximity of housing, the rural character of the highway network and the availability of alternative, superior locations within Preston".

Homes England also cited a rise in construction costs, "further challenging viability on non-prime or peripheral sites".

The report said: "If the employment land were to be proposed it would adversely affect the deliverability of the rest of the site, which is necessary to support housing growth on an allocated site.

"Furthermore information submitted with the application suggests that employment land in this location, which has been carried forward from the previous local plan adopted in 2004, is no longer suitable or viable for contemporary businesses."

The report said that the National Planning Policy Framework states that where no reasonable prospect of an application coming forward for allocated uses, applications for alternative uses should be supported.

"In this particular case the assertions put forward by the applicant are accepted as there has been no interest to develop the north-east part of the site for Class B1 development in isolation to the rest of the site," the report said.

Councillors also accepted the developer’s claim that it could not viably provide more than 11 per cent affordable housing on the scheme.

Elsewhere, officers said that the loss of 0.7 hectares of green space land outside the allocated site would be more than compensated for by 22 hectares of new and improved green infrastructure within the rest of the application boundaries.

Last month, South Ribble Council approved plans for 197 homes on the former Moss Side test track near Preston.


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