‘Cynical’ countryside housing estate gets the green light in Preston after council decision overturned

The site off Garstang Road where permission has now been granted to build 51 new homes (image: Google)The site off Garstang Road where permission has now been granted to build 51 new homes (image: Google)
The site off Garstang Road where permission has now been granted to build 51 new homes (image: Google)
A proposed housing development in the Preston countryside has been given the go-ahead - at the third time of asking.

Preston City Council had twice refused a bid by Hollins Strategic Land LLP to build 51 homes on land off Garstang Road in Broughton.

The site is not earmarked for development in the city’s local plan and, although not located in greenbelt, sits outside of the village settlement area. It was also deemed by the authority to fall foul of a Central Lancashire-wide planning policy designed to direct housebuilding towards a “hierarchy” of locations where it should be prioritised.

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However, the developer argued that the plans amounted to the “logical infilling of a single field” in between two other estates - and pledged to overshoot the minimum requirements for the proportion of the proposed properties that would fall into the affordable homes category.

That move - and other attempts to meet particular local housing needs - led city council planning committee member Cllr Jennifer Mein to brand the blueprint a “cynical” attempt to tick “every single box” in order to persuade members to approve it when she and her colleagues last rejected the proposal in April 2023.

A public inquiry was held earlier this year after the applicant appealed against that decision - and the planning inspector who chaired the proceedings, Carole Dillon, has now overturned the council's refusal and granted outline permission for the development.

Ms. Dillon concluded that although the scheme conflicted with a Central Lancashire spatial policy and Preston’s own development plan, “the submitted evidence does not demonstrate that the proposal would harm the character and appearance of the area or residential amenity”.

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She described the site as “something of an island of undeveloped land” following the construction of “a significant number of new dwellings on neighbouring former agricultural land”.

Those developments, which also fell beyond the Broughton village boundaries, were granted permission when Preston City Council was unable to show that it had set aside enough land to meet its minimum housebuilding targets - a situation which has been reversed in recent years.

However, Ms. Dillon noted that the proposed estate would make “considerable contributions to meeting a broad range of identified local specialist housing needs”.

These included a promised 40 percent of dwellings being classed as affordable - as opposed to 35 percent required by local planning policy - along with the provision of some units for larger families and others for those requiring wheelchair accessibility. Meanwhile, ten percent of the estate will be reserved for the over-55s, while two plots are to be offered to buyers wanting to build their own home.

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Mrs. Dillon considered the suite of commitments “favourable considerations” which outweighed the conflict with local planning policy.

The inquiry heard concern from Preston City Council that such a decision would set a precedent.

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