Controversy over plans for 350 new homes in Preston

Plans have been submitted for up to 250 houses at the back of D'Urton Lane - once the most fashionable residential street in Preston
Plans have been submitted for up to 250 houses at the back of D'Urton Lane - once the most fashionable residential street in Preston
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It was once themost exclusive address in Preston.

Now the affluent homes in leafy D’Urton Lane are becoming boxed in by a building bonanza.

Plans have been submitted for up to 250 houses at the back of D'Urton Lane - once the most fashionable residential street in Preston

Plans have been submitted for up to 250 houses at the back of D'Urton Lane - once the most fashionable residential street in Preston

Last year work started on a 300-house development in front of the city’s “Millionaires’ Row” - once home to comedian Syd Little.

A further 110 were approved on a plot behind one of the D’Urton Lane houses.

And now a scheme for another 250 dwellings, also at the rear of the established properties, has begun its journey through the planning process.

Add to that the long-awaited Broughton Bypass which sweeps close by, carving up a lush green valley which used to be an unspoilt view for homeowners, and the folk who live in this rural idyll are in danger of being crowded out.

It would be unrealistic to expect only a handful of new houses on the latest site but, in my view the level proposed is far too high.

“The residents are simply punchdrunk,” said Coun Neil Cartwright, who represents the area on Preston City Council.

“They’ve known for five or six years that this was coming. And I just think they have waved the white flag and accepted it all.

“As their councillor I’m unhappy about the scale of it all. It’s far bigger than we, as a council, ever envisaged.”

The latest planning application, by the Homes and Communities Agency, joins a string of 21 residential developments in an arc across the north of Preston.

The intention is to build around 6,000 new homes in this green corridor between Fulwood in the east and Cottam in the west.

And it comes at a time when the council has been roundly criticised by a planning company for not releasing enough green belt land to meet the needs of a thriving city.

Emery Planning, who have submitted an application for up to 101 homes on farmland off Whittingham Lane, Broughton, have accused the authority of having “persistently under-delivered in terms of new housing.”

Preston Council officers are adamant that is not the case. And the application can expect some opposition when it goes before the city’s planning committee in due course.

In the meantime residents in D’Urton Lane, where homes can be in the £1m bracket, are now seeing their local landscape change with the advent of the bypass and the three major housing developments springing up on their doorsteps.

Only a tall hedgerow separates the lane from building work for the new D’Urton Manor scheme. There developers Story Homes have delivered the first of 300 homes and some are already being lived in.

A number of houses have been built by Persimmon Homes on a site, partway down D’Urton Lane, which is now accessed by the newly-created Highrigg Drive.

And if, as expected, the 250 dwelling development applied for by the Homes and Communities Agency is approved by the planning committee, the original residents will find themselves surrounded by up to 660 new houses.

“Whilst we have to accept that this land was designated for housing in the Local Plan, it was only envisaged there would only be up to 450 on the north and south of D’Urton Lane, including this site,” confessed Coun Cartwright. “It’s the sheer scale of it I’m not happy about.

“Three hundred of these came from HCA land now being developed by Story Homes. It was originally intended that the remainder would be on land to the north of D’Urton lane with access from a new road across the Story site at the easterly end.

“Persimmon pushed through a consent for around 112 or so accessing D’Urton Lane at the junction with Highrigg Drive. I was, and still am, totally opposed to this element.

“It would be unrealistic to expect only a handful of new houses on the latest site but, in my view the level proposed is far too high. The 450 will become around 650 and the proposal for a new road across the Story site has been dropped.

“We had very widespread consultation when I was the cabinet member as part of the Local Plan process and whilst, clearly, situations change, I believe we are straying too far from what was envisaged around 2011/2012.

“To be honest I think the residents have now accepted it. When it all went to consultation early on we were surprised by the small number of responses we got. I thought we would be besieged by complaints. I think they’re bothered, of course they are. But, as I said, I just think they are punchdrunk after all that’s gone on.”

Preston Mayor Brian Rollo, who up to taking office was the planning committee chairman, oversaw a Klondike-scale rush by developers during his chairmanship to satisfy the housing bonanza being demanded by central government.

“The developers tell us they are selling the houses, so they are obviously needed,” said Coun Rollo in May.

“We have a net requirment for 507 houses to be built every year. In total there will be 6,000 going up in the next 10 years.

“When we originally passed these schemes the build rate on each site was set at 30 a year. Now the developers have upped it to 40 because they are selling them.”

‘Council has failed to demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing land’

Planners looking to build 101 homes on farmland north of the M55 in Broughton have accused Preston Council of having “persistently under-delivered” on new housing.

Emery Planning Partnership, from Stockport, submitted an application for outline planning permission for the development on green belt land at the rear of homes in Whittingham Lane.

In a document to the city’s planning committee the agents for landowner say there is “an urgent need for the council to release greenfield sites for new residential development.”

A third of the homes planned on the Whittingham Lane site will be affordable housing.

In the design and access statement published on Preston Council’s website, Emery claim: “We say the council cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing land. Our client’s site is available, suitable and deliverable within the short-term in order to meet unmet and future housing needs.

“Notwithstanding the question as to how many years supply of deliverable housing sites can be demonstrated, the council has persistently under-delivered in terms of new housing. Furthermore there remains a very substantial unmet affordable housing need across the borough.”

The plan is to demolish a property on the south side of Whittingham Lane and build the new development on its gardens and a number of pasture fields at the rear.

The planners point out that land immediately to the west of the site is currently being developed for housing.

Preston Council recently published a document saying it could demonstrate a 5.5 year supply of housing. Emery say their calculations only show a supply of between 3.03 and 4.26 years.

“It is particularly the case in Preston that there is a need to boost housing land supply significantly,” say Emery.

“The council has seriously underperformed in terms of the delivery of new housing across the borough historically. There remains a very substantial unmet affordable housing need across the borough.

“There is a need for both open market and affordable housing in the area. In order to meet this need there is an urgency for sites such as the application site (Whittingham Lane) in order to allow Preston to provide a five-year supply of housing land.”

Council officers are adamant they do have enough available land for housing over the next five years.

Chris Hayward, director of planning, told the Post: “The council considers that it does have at least five years supply of housing land and therefore its local plan policies are relevant and up-to-date.

“This has been supported by two different planning inspectors at recent appeals on housing applications in rural areas.

“However, we cannot be complacent in ensuring that sufficient houses are built, including affordable houses, but they need to be built in the right places in sustainable locations.

“Therefore the majority need to be built within the urban area and the City Deal is helping to deliver that.”

Coun Neil Cartwright, who represents the area on the city council, commented: “What this company are saying is wrong.

“I hope the council will robustly defend the fact that we have a five-year supply. Certainly I will be opposing this application tooth and nail.

“It is so contrary to the Local Plan in so many respects. In my opinion it is purely a predatory, speculatory application and it has no merits.”