Energy concerns over Preston affordable homes plan

Demolition takes place at the former Manchester Mill on Geoffrey Street
Demolition takes place at the former Manchester Mill on Geoffrey Street
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The final phase of an affordable housing scheme in Preston has been given the green light despite concerns about energy efficiency.

The plans for 24 houses and 10 apartments on land off Geoffrey Street was approved by the city’s planning committee last week.

They represent the final stage of development on the wider site that included the now demolished Manchester Mill.

More than 115 affordable houses have already been given the go-ahead and are either complete or under-construction.

The latest bid was backed unanimously by committee members but it was highlighted that the accommodation does not meet energy requirements outlined in the city’s Core Strategy.

Instead, they complied with less stringent regulations approved by central government.

Coun Peter Moss said: “I have to express my disappointment in terms of the fact the entire development is for affordable housing - so we make the assumption it is for people of low income - we are then asking them to live in a property that doesn’t meet the requisite energy efficiency levels of our policy.

“That is disappointing, I understand on balance why we are doing it but clearly for people on low income to live in a home that...isn’t insulated as well as it could be, isn’t really acceptable.”

Councillors were informed that it was not yet known whether some of the properties would be available for social renting but that it remains a possibility, officers said.

A planning report presented to the committee said: “Whilst the proposal would not achieve the requisite energy efficiency levels...this conflict is not considered sufficient to withhold the grant of planning permission on the basis the scheme is a Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) supported 100 per cent affordable housing proposal.”

Coun John Swindells added: “I was surprised to see how the first development had enhanced the area around there and I hope we approve this today.

"But I do agree with Coun Moss, a home is only truly affordable if you can afford to live in it.

“This is something that we should keep a check on in all developments. I think (this development) will enhance the area but it’s a pity it won’t be as well insulated as it should be.”