A 65-home estate “that nobody wanted” has been passed because Preston Council does not have an up-to-date housing policy.
The Planning Inspectorate acted after the council failed decide on an application for land off Forest Grove, Barton.
There were 284 letters of objection to the plans, with villagers arguing the development would lead to loss of agricultural land and wildlife habitat, the site is a flood zone, and local schools are oversubscribed.
The council’s planning committee later resolved it would have refused permission on grounds that it would lead to a disproportionate expansion of the village, ruin its character, and would increase A6 traffic.
Inspector Karen Ridge agreed the development would cause harm under the council’s Preston Local Plan (LP), adopted in 2004, and the Central Lancashire Core Strategy (CS), but said neither could be taken into account.
She said: “I have concluded that the proposal would be contrary to the development plan in terms of its location and the effect on rural landscape and open countryside.
“However, policies for the supply of housing land are not up to date and therefore I am going to attribute moderate weight to the harm to policy objectives in relation to the location of development. I also attribute some weight to the moderate harm to the rural landscape.”
She added that “on balance”, the proposal would represent sustainable development, and that the council’s lack of a five-year housing land supply “adds some weight in support of the development”.
Preston Council has not met the housing land supply for the last five years and Ms Ridge said the estimate of a 3.52 year supply was out of date.
Councillor John Bleadsale, vice chairman of Barton Parish Council, said: “Why is the planning policy not up to date? It’s ridiculous this situation has been allowed to happen, when nobody wants these homes.”
A council spokesman said legal advice was being sought.
He said: “This application is in a rural location which the Inspector accepted was contrary to the development plan and, in our view, too much weight has been attached to the lack of five year supply of housing land compared to the impact of the development on the open countryside and the rural landscape.”
He added that the council was doing all it could to bring forward land for housing in the Local Plan in Preston, as required by the Government.