No fight by Preston Council against ‘inappropriate’ rural homes proposals

Land off Garstang road in Barton, where Wainhomes wants to build 72 homes.  View south across site from north western corner

Land off Garstang road in Barton, where Wainhomes wants to build 72 homes. View south across site from north western corner

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Town Hall chiefs have not fought a planning appeal against homes in rural Preston, after it emerged the council did not have a five-year supply of housing land.

Councillors had unanimously turned down an application for up to 72 homes in countryside off Garstang Road in Barton, after officers deemed it inappropriate and said it would lead to the “unplanned and inappropriate expansion of a rural village”.

But developer Wainhomes North West appealed against the decision, and the council announced it would not be defending its position.

Preston Rural North councillor Stephen Thompson said it was “frustrating” and said: “As a local authority we’re doing everything we can to try to meet the planning requirements, and then at the end of the day the rules say if you don’t have a five-year supply of housing, all that preparation and work that’s gone in is just out of the window.”

Chris Hayward, director of development at Preston Council, said: “Following a review of all the evidence and very robust, independent legal advice it became clear that the council was not in a position to defend the public inquiry at Barton.

“As such, the council did not resist the appeal.

“Planning law is complex and we understand that some local people were disappointed by the council’s decision.

“However, the local planning authority has to make decisions in line with national as well as local planning policies.

“Local residents did have the opportunity to make representations to the inspector and these will still be taken into consideration when a decision is made.”

He said the council could not currently demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land, which was “a significant factor in favour of planning applications for new housing”.

He said: “National planning policy says if you do not have a five year supply then planning applications should be approved for sustainable development unless the harm significantly and demonstrably outweighs the benefits.”

He said the city had a recently-adopted local plan and lots of land identified for housing, but the formula for calculating supply made it difficult to achieve, especially with building rates lower than required.