Go-ahead for new retail park in Preston
A new retail park has got the green light to start development work in Preston.
It will see a small supermarket, six shops, a pub and a drive-thru café built in an area previously only used for agriculture and pasture.
A petition with 224 signatures was handed into Preston City Council (PCC) highlighting traffic woes and arguing the area is already gridlocked in an attempt to block the plans.
The 1.91-hectare build will be sandwiched in between the B6241 Eastway and the M55, to the west of the A6.
It is an area which was earmarked in the Local Plan for housing and 140 homes are being built in a scheme to the West of the vicinity.
Addressing councillors at the development meeting, applicant Matthew Symons of Hollins Eastway said: “Our original scheme was much bigger than what we are now proposing.
“After the appeal we went away and we came up with a scheme that could be deemed to replicate the local centre.“
He also told members that the build would create 132 jobs.
A similar outline planning application from the firm had been sent to the council in 2014 which featured plans for a bigger supermarket and included a petrol station.
It was refused by members and although the builders appealed the decision it was dismissed by an inspector.
Representing residents, Coun Rowena Edmondson appealed to members of the development committee to reject the revised application.
She said: “This will have a devastating effect on an already congested area.”
Although she conceded that the Broughton Bypass had improved the congestion she said it was “not enough to cope with a development on this scale.”
She added: “The roads are smaller and not coping with the current amount of traffic and this development will only make it worse.
“We currently already have Sainsbury’s Express and Aldi under construction.
“I seriously question the logic of the size of this development in this location.”
Before voting nine to four in favour of the scheme city councillors raised their concerns about the increase in traffic during a debate.
Coun Sue Whitham said: “I have some concerns about this option. It was originally marked as residential.
“We don’t have a five year supply at the moment and we are not building enough houses.
“The site next door to it didn’t have any affordable housing. We are short of affordable housing. There’s just none available for people to buy. It should be residential.”
In order to mitigate against the increase in traffic developers have outlined the number of properties within walking and cycling distance.
Hollins Eastway planning papers state: “The site [is] within easy walking and cycling distance of a significant number of existing and proposed dwellings.
“At present, there are approximately 1,826 dwellings within 1,200m walking distance of the site.
“When the proposed and approved development within the North West Strategic Location (NWPSL) is taken into account, this figure increases to approximately 2,251 dwellings within easy walking distance of the site.
“There are significantly more dwellings within easy cycling distance of the site, particularly given the vast amount development that is underway in the NWPSL.”
However, Coun Robert Jolliffe also expressing his concern about traffic congestion said that residents were very unlikely to walk to and from the shops carrying their groceries.
He also agreed with coun Whitham that the land should be dedicated to a residential development.
“Traffic is just is chaos. I just think this could be a victim of its own success. People are not going to cycle to the development.”
But coun Peter Moss said: “The application is before us now for the third time. I think we can gauge the enthusiasm for retail as opposed to residential.
“This does cause some concerns in terms of its location and traffic but there will be some pain in traffic until the infrastructure arrives.”
Planning documents from Hollins Eastway say the firm anticipates that the development could be built in two years.
At least 12 housing sites are under construction in the wider area which will ultimately bring 2,426 homes.
* Highways authority Lancashire County Council is bringing a major new road to link up Preston to the M55 motorway to ease congestion in the area.
Part of the Preston Western Distributor project will see a new roundabout come to nearby Lightfoot Lane, where it is meets Tabley Lane.
Because housing pays for infrastructure there is a time lag before facilities such as roads can be put in place.