Secluded country wedding venue near Preston faces a huge housing invasion

A giant housing development is being planned which will almost completely surround one of the smartest wedding venues in Lancashire.

Saturday, 20th June 2020, 7:00 am
The swish Bartle Hall could be surrounded by new housing.

More than 1,100 homes are earmarked for farmland around picturesque Bartle Hall near Preston according to plans submitted to the city council this week.

The houses and apartments would straddle the £200m Preston Western Distributor road (PWD) which is currently being built to connect the M55 motorway with Blackpool Road at Lea.

But they would also leave the award-winning 17th century Bartle Hall and its 16 acres of gardens and woodlands encircled.

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More than 100 acres of lush green fields could be swallowed up.

Tentative plans have been put in by a group of landowners including Tom Barron Ltd and the family of former Preston North End chairman Keith Leeming, who have farmed in the area for generations.

The scheme will also involve the construction of a roundabout on the PWD to access the new housing.

The development, if approved, will add more housing to the thousands of residential properties currently being built across the north of Preston.

The construction bonanza has already swallowed up hundreds of acres of countryside in the biggest building boom the city has ever seen. And it has been greeted with disapproval from existing residents who fear they are being crowded out.

Work is underway to build the 200m Preston Western Distributor Road.

Elegant Bartle Hall is one of the most popular hotels and wedding venues in the countryside around Preston.

But its striking rural location looks set to be invaded by one of the biggest housing developments to emerge so far in the Klondike-style land grab which has been going on in the north of the city.

The applicants are listed as Neil William Leeming, Frank Barron Leeming, Paul Newton Leeming, Martin Barron Tomlinson (the trustees of the Tom Barron (1978) Pension Scheme), Tom Barron Ltd and Tom Barron Estates Ltd. The land covers 116.7 acres north of the Sitting Goose pub.

The scheme is looking to build a total of 1,104 dwellings, comprising of 60 apartments, 157 two-bed properties, 499 three-bed, 321 four-bed and 67 five bed homes.

Sitting Goose landlord Rob Thiele could seen have 1,100 new houses up the road from his pub.

The landlord of the Sitting Goose, Rob Thiele, whose pub will face some of the proposed homes and backs onto the new road, said work had already begun on tree felling close to his property to make way for a realigned Bartle Road as part of the Western Distributor.

“I only took the pub on last August and I knew about the road coming through, but I didn’t know about all the houses,” he said. “I’m going to need a bigger pub with 1,100 homes up the road.

“But seriously, it’s beautiful round here. I knew they were going to remove some trees, but I didn’t know how many. I’m upset they are going to destroy all that.”

Coun Keith Middlebrough, who respresents Preston Rural North on the city council, said the number of new housing developments being built was becoming “unsustainable.”

“It seems just about every month I am taking calls or emails from people who live in these rural areas about planning applications.

“It worries me when these things start as a suggestion and then turn into an application and before you know it they are breaking ground.

“It is the impact on everything - transport, infrastructure, schools, everything. It’s unsustainable.”

The plans were submitted this week to establish the council’s view on the environmental impact the scheme would have on the area.

While the Sitting Goose will see changes in the countryside which surrounds it, the biggest impact is likely to be felt by Bartle Hall which advertises itself as “an award-winning country house hotel in the heart of the stunning Lancashire countryside.”

It has a reputation as one of the most popular wedding venues in the county and is proud of its “beautifully landscaped gardens and woodlands.”

The hotel, on Lea Lane, sees itself as a “romantic escape” in the Lancashire countryside.