Importance of wetlands
I fully endorse Coun Neil Cartwright’s excellent letter (LEP November 13), concerning the future of a proposed nature reserve at Grimsargh reflecting the bizarre decision of Preston City Council, at their planning meeting on November 5, to refuse outline planning permission for twelve houses on a relatively small narrow strip of land adjacent to the wetlands.
The village is undoubtedly enhanced by its three de-commissioned Victorian reservoirs, which have now been renamed Grimsargh Wetlands.
This is to reflect its importance as a valued wildlife asset for the local and wider community and in anticipation of the site being officially declared as a nature reserve.
A public footpath bisects the site and affords good viewing of the wintering wildfowl, breeding birds and other wildlife.
As a local resident and naturalist, I have documented its significant flora and fauna for many years, and recorded sightings of 135 species of birds including several species of nationally declining red listed breeding birds.
Significantly, the conservation importance of the redundant reservoir site was recognised in 2003 when I successfully negotiated with Lancashire County Council to have the whole site designated as a Biological Heritage Site.
Grimsargh Parish Council and United Utilities, with the considerable help of Mark Fillingham of United Utilities, Coun Neil Cartwright and the former director of Environmental Services at Preston City Council, Mick Lovatt, have all worked very hard for several years to produce a plan to secure the future of the wetlands.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) also recognises the importance of the site for conservation.
Generous funding was to be forthcoming from United Utilities paid direct to Grimsargh Parish Council for the maintenance of the site as an important nature reserve and as a public amenity for the people of Preston and indeed North West England. There has been excellent public consultation through meetings with local residents, which were implemented by Mark Fillingham and his United Utilities team.
The decision by Preston City Council to refuse planning permission is disconcerting. The reason given that ‘the applicant has failed to robustly justify the financial contribution to affordable housing in lieu of onsite provision,’ remains a real stumbling block and renders the future of the site uncertain.
We do, of course, recognise the need for affordable housing, notwithstanding that United Utilities has made financial provision for affordable housing off-site as part of the overall plan. We also hope that Preston Planning Committee will recognise this is not a routine commercially driven planning application.
Grimsargh Parish Council acknowledges the feedback and overall level of support from the local community. On their behalf, we sincerely trust that common sense will ultimately prevail and that Preston City Council Planning Committee will favourably reconsider their plans to safeguard the wetlands and their special status, as a fine nature reserve for the City of Preston in perpetuity. To assist them in their deliberations I would be delighted to show any members of the planning committee around the wetlands so they can understand its special importance.
Coun David J Hindle, Grimsargh
Please be more considerate
Can I ask all patients who have made an appointment with their doctors or physiotherapist to either keep their appointment or have the common courtesy to cancel? There are so many who would use an appointment and be really grateful to see the doctor. So much time is wasted by these irresponsible patients.
At our surgery there were 136 people who did not keep their appointment in the month of September. Such a waste of time.
Get rail station back on track
So we are promised improved rail services in the North West during 2016.
Let’s hope the improvements extend to the creaking, lumbering, out-of-date edifice that is Preston Railway Station, a blot on the city.
For months the clock on the front of the station has been a couple of minutes slow – a sign of sloppiness and ill-service to come.
When you get on to the station, there is no escalator, no automatic ticket-barrier and, bizarrely, only ever a ticket check for trains on platforms one and two.
And if you want to leave your case somewhere, there is no left luggage department to be found.
You are well served for food and snacks at two outlets – always provided that you are prepared to pay way over the odds, that is.
Someone to help you with your luggage?
Time to get things back on track and give us a station worthy of city status, instead of one that is second-class and shabby.
Opportunity has been lost
The affordable homes built earlier this year at the iconic bullnose site, Docklands, look neat, but why have planners denied residents the panoramic, delightful, southern aspect views across the Ribble plain to Longton by constructing brick wall gable ends of houses and view-blocking wooden fences along the River Ribble?
Although the earlier plans for homes on the site to be built in the general shape of a boat didn’t take off and I understand the need for affordable homes, perhaps the value of the homes and their visual impact could have been increased by taking advantage of the unique marina location by a more sympathetic design, where residents could have enjoyed views of both water and land in what is an area for prime recreation.
Some may find it disappoint-ing that the Docklands’ nautically-influenced building theme has not been continued, especially as the Bullnose area site is arguably Preston’s most special maritime location.