Members of Preston City Council’s planning committee rejected a proposal to develop 33 small units at Orchard Farm, off Whittingham Lane
They would have been permitted to house firms operating in the storage, commercial and services sectors – and so could have included
distribution, industrial, research and development and fitness ventures.
However, the application was recommended for refusal by council planning officers, because the grazing on land on which it was to be
built is classed as open countryside – and is not earmarked in the authority’s local plan for the use proposed.
Papers presented to the committee also stated that the applicant – JK Beardsworth Ltd. – had failed to demonstrate that there was “a local
business and community need” for their plans.
Richard Purser, the agent for the application, said that he was “frustrated” by that conclusion – and claimed that research showed that
there was a gap in the local market for the kind of small-scale commercial spaces being suggested.
He said that the aim was to meet a demand from “genuinely small local businesses, with two or three employees, [which] want small workshops” –
and also to enable existing companies to expand.
“[These are] businesses that don’t want to be located in [urban] Preston – businesses that could be based in Broughton to serve a wider
rural area,” said Mr. Purser, who added that it would make the village a more “sustainable” settlement and reduce commuting into Preston.
The proposed units – ranging in size from 42 to 116 square metres – would have been spread across nine, single-storey buildings arranged in a
courtyard design and screened with “dense planting”.
However, planning officers concluded that a development with such a “suburban character” would be “at odds” with the surrounding area and
would also significantly extend the built-up part of Broughton beyond the village boundary.
Committee members were similarly unpersuaded. Cllr Harry Landless said that he was “not convinced by the argument that there was a need
for an employment or industrial site in this area”.
“The whole thing, to me, hasn’t been properly thought through…[it’s] just not the right site,” he said, noting that highways officers at
Lancashire County Council had objected to the fact that there was nothing in the plans to show that HGVs would be able to turn around
within the development.
Cllr David Borrow said that any such scheme should be considered as part of the ongoing process to draw up a new local plan – and not on the
basis of individual applications.
“There may be merits for building an employment estate somewhere – it’s [a question of] finding the right place,” he said.
Twenty-seven public objections were lodged to the proposal – some from the same household.