Industrial estate set to move into open countryside near Preston despite parish council objections

Plans to move an industrial park into open countryside near Preston could get the nod from the city's planning committee next week despite strong opposition from the local parish council.

By Brian Ellis
Wednesday, 23rd February 2022, 3:45 pm

A scheme to knock down existing buildings on the Sand Bank Estate off Cumeragh Lane and replace them with more modern units on agricultural land nearby has sparked an angry response from councillors in Whittingham.

The tiny authority says that allowing 10 new units to be built on an area to the east of the present site cannot be justified and could open the way for more development in future.

But planning officers at the city council have recommended that the project should go ahead, regardless of the concerns raised by locals, when it goes before the planning committee on Tuesday.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Sand Bank Industrial Estate off Cumeragh Lane in Whittingham.

The plans are for demolition of the existing industrial buildings at Sand Bank which are said to be "in a poor state of repair, which has resulted in some buildings being unable to be rented out or occupied."

Ten new units will be built on adjacent farmland for existing occupiers to move into.

But the parish council fears that a previous application to build up to 10 houses on the land vacated by the old units, which was refused a year ago, could be revisited if this latest one gets the go-ahead.

"There is no reason why an empty, unused building can't be demolished and rebuilt on the same footprint," says parish council clerk and former Preston councillor Julie Buttle in a letter of objection to the plans.

Former councillor Julie Buttle is clerk to Whittingham Parish Council.

"Whilst it is noted that the applicant has withdrawn the option to build 10 houses on the site of the existing units, if the units are demolished and relocated into the countryside it must be

questioned what will happen to the (cleared) brownfield site.

"The parish council submits that the revised application is merely a two-stage approach to achieve the original objective of the initial application and, if relocation of the units is approved, a further application for development will be submitted on the brownfield footprint."

In its letter of objection the parish council says the plan, if approved, would "set an unwelcome precedent for further development."

The council argues the agricultural land is earmarked for employment or housing use.

And it says: "There are many other sites in and around the Longridge area which could be used for industrial purposes without having a detrimental impact on the countryside of Whittingham."

The current site is occupied by a total of four companies, two of them having three units each and another working out of two units. The total number of staff employed at Sand Bank is 21.

In recommending approval, planning officers say the existing large shed style buildings on the site would be removed and replaced with smaller scale units in a landscaped setting, "which would improve the visual impact of the site overall."

They add: "The proposed development would provide an improvement to the appearance and character of the area. It is considered that the benefits in favour of the application tip the balance in favour of approving the application."