Frustration as land ‘grabbed’ for housing site

Land grab: Coun Lona Smith
Land grab: Coun Lona Smith
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Councillors have given a grudging go-ahead to another housing development on farmland after admitting they have “lost the battle” with developers grabbing greenbelt land.

Preston’s planning committee voted narrowly in favour of outline planning permission for up to 190 homes on farmland near Longridge despite strong objections by residents and a plea for common sense by a local councillor.

Coun Lona Smith, who lives just down the road from the proposed site, told the committee the development would “exacerbate an already dire situation” in the area to the west of Longridge.

She said the Ribble Valley town was becoming “encircled by property developments.” And she warned the road system between Longridge and Preston “will not be able to cope and lives will be put at risk.” Coun Smith added: “This is a recipe for disaster. The whole area between Whittingham Lane and Inglewhite Road is being swallowed up in a land grab. Why do we always have to capitulate?”

The land, just inside Preston’s north-east boundary, butts up to the town of Longridge. Opponents say the scheme will close the area of separation between the towns.

Coun Alexandra Thompson-Ortega who, like Coun Smith, represents the Preston Rural North ward on the city council, said: “This is ridiculous. We have been here so many times. We can’t carry on like this.”

But Coun David Borrow said: “I’m not sure where we go from here because it is quite clear we have lost the battle.

“Ministers want us to build as many houses as possible and, unless we have a water-tight case, planning inspectors will find in favour of the developers. It’s sad, but that’s just where we are. We have lost that argument.”