Re-submitted PNE bid earmarked for approval

An artist's impression of part of the training ground
An artist's impression of part of the training ground

Council officers have said they are “minded to approve” Preston North End’s re-submitted training ground masterplan.

The controversial application will be determined at next week’s planning committee meeting, held at the Guild Hall.

The bid on the site of Ingol Golf Club includes the state-of-the-art training ground, open space (with a public park) and housing sites for up to 450 dwellings.

An initial application was rejected by the planning committee in June, causing a public backlash and a fans' petition.

A separate application for just the training ground did receive the green light from the committee, but the club has previously said it needs the housing sites in order to finance the plans.

The rejected bid had also been recommended for approval by town hall officers but members of the planning committee opted not to follow their advice, an eventuality that could happen again next week.

PNE representatives re-submitted later in June, taking out one of the housing sites in favour of more public land, although the maximum number of houses remains at 450.

According to the planning agenda, published on Tuesday, officers are minded to approve the application subject to a section 106 agreement being accepted.

This is an aspect of planning regulations which means the applicant must satisfy certain conditions, which in this case includes a requirement relating to the access to the open space and its management.

Should the planning committee give its approval, the agreement must be in place by October 10, the documents reveal.

In an unprecedented step, next week’s planning meeting was made an all-ticket event due to the heightened interest in this bid.

The planning report reads: "Although the application does not accord with the development plan, as set out in previous sections of this report, it would result in a number of benefits which are material considerations and carry sufficient weight to overcome noncompliance with the development plan.

"These benefits relate to the creation of a significant amount of new public open space and the management and maintenance of that public open space in perpetuity, along with the provision of a new, high quality first team training facility for the city’s only professional football club in order to realise the club’s ambitions to compete at the highest tier of English League football."

Councillors had voiced concerns the plans would create urban sprawl, have a detrimental impact on local communities and were contrary to local planning guidelines.

And Ingol residents' groups have vowed to maintain their opposition.

Representative Bruce Ellison previously told the Lancashire Post: “We want development of the golf course but not development on the golf course and the area of open space it is part of.

"It’s not just for local residents, it wasn’t a good deal for Preston.

“It’s not the case of residents being Nimbys (not in my backyarders), we’re doing it to protect the local plan. It took seven years with cooperation from authorities in Chorley, Preston, South Ribble.

“Housing on this site has been rejected by previous committees both by the city council and through public enquiry. It’s a non-starter."

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