PNE petition to be presented before council meeting

A petition protesting against the rejection of Preston North End's training ground plans will be presented before this week's full council meeting.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 27th June 2017, 9:16 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:45 am
An artist's impression of the training ground's main building
An artist's impression of the training ground's main building

Almost 3,000 fans have signed up and the organisers have been invited to the town hall by council leader Coun Peter Rankin.

Details of the club’s re-submitted plans were revealed last week with one of the controversial housing sites scrapped in favour of more public open space.

The original bid - including housing plots, areas of public land and the state-of-the-art training facilities - was rejected by the planning committee earlier in June.

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The amended plans are expected to return before committee members in August.

A spokesman for PNE-online, the fans’ forum behind the petition, said: “Realistically, we now know the council can’t simply reverse its decision but the number of signatures shows the support out there.

“We just wanted to show our support to the club and (owner) Trevor Hemmings that there's a lot of us behind the plans.”

Committee members had previously said the masterplan for Ingol Golf Club was contrary to local planning guidelines and would create urban sprawl.

The decision caused a backlash with Coun Rankin and Preston’s Labour MP Mark Hendrick criticising the rejection.

However, Ben Wallace, Conservative MP for Wyre and Preston North backed the committee’s ruling, highlighting the site is identified as open space in the Preston Local Plan.

A separate application, relating to just the training ground, was approved. But the housing part of the plans is understood to be crucial in terms of funding the project.

Local residents’ groups have vowed to continue their opposition.

Liberal Democrats councillor for Ingol, Neil Darby, said: “The new application appears almost identical to the previous application and does not address the specific reason given for the rejection.

“That the developers are pressing ahead with a new application with so little substantive changes from the previous housing application looks like they are trying to override the decision made by democratically elected councillors, by relying on external pressures to force members to change their minds based on non-planning (and therefore not legally permissible) reasons.”