'Alien' design for Preston flats set for rejection

The sports hall (above) and the design plans below
The sports hall (above) and the design plans below

Developers could be forced back to the drawing board as designs to convert a former Preston sports hall into flats have been branded “alien”

The Garden Street location - close to Winckley Square - has been vacant for a decade and was once used by pupils at Cardinal Newman College.

Applicants Northern Estates Ltd have submitted plans to create 41 apartments but town hall officers have said they are not in-keeping with conservation area regulations.

The bid has therefore been recommended for refusal when it comes before the city’s planning committee this week.

An officer’s report reads: “The proposed development would form an incongruous, alien and strident feature in the street scene and would have a substantial detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the Winckley Square Conservation Area.”

The facility has been subject to several development bids since the turn of the century that have since been shelved.

The latest bid, submitted in 2017, would convert the existing building with the addition of an extension to create a five and six storey block.

According to the planning committee report, the design received two letters of objection that raised concerns about the density of the number of flats and a potential loss of privacy at neighbouring Lanson House.

Officers added it would “fail to make a positive contribution” to the surrounding area although the building in its current state is described as “bland.”

The report reads: “By retaining the existing building through modification, the proposal neither retains its original character nor adds to the character or appearance of the conservation area.”

Committee members can choose to approve the scheme despite the recommendation from planning officers.

The developers say the plan “is intended to be sympathetically designed to respect its context and neighbours in terms of both detail and design and to deal with issues such as rights to light, amenity and overlooking.

"The scheme also seeks to provide a building of a quality design in the existing urban townscape and one that is appropriate in terms of mass and scale.”

The elected members forming the committee will therefore have to decide whether the designs are “sympathetic” or “incongruous and alien”.