Court allows Preston scheme

Plans for a major development in the centre of Preston have won the backing of a top judge at London's High Court.

Mr Justice Burton dismissed a challenge to the extensive residential scheme for a site at Queen Street and Church Street, Preston.

The challenge came from a developer currently seeking planning permission for its own adjacent site.

Now the developer has been left facing a legal costs bill of more than £40,000 in respect of its challenge.

The judge said that he was "entirely satisfied that there was no arguable case".

He refused Manchester-based Brookhouse Group Ltd permission to bring a judicial review challenge to Preston City Council's decision to approve the final details of the 605-apartment scheme.

The development has been planned by EH Booth and Company Ltd and Countryside Properties (Northern) Ltd.

Change of use

Brookhouse had complained that, when planning permission was first sought for the development in 1999, it was for a 6,735 square metre retail superstore.

By the time outline planning permission was granted in 2003, this had been amended to add office uses and residential units.

However, when final approval was given for the details of the scheme in February 2006, it had become a predominantly residential development, with 605 apartments in four tower blocks, 10, 13, 14 and 18 storeys high.

It argued that no reasonable planning authority would consider that such large scale residential development fell within the scope of the outline planning permission.

A reasonable planning authority, it argued, would have decided that the final scheme was not in accordance with the application plans.

‘Naked spoiling objection'

However, the judge ruled that the claim had no reasonable prospect of success.

Seeking costs, lawyers for EH Booth and Countryside described Brookhouse's application as a "naked spoiling objection" from a rival developer.

However, lawyers for Brookhouse denied this.

The court heard that Brookhouse is seeking planning permission to develop its own land, and that its application had been amended in the wake of permission being granted for the scheme at the centre of this case.

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