Bellway Homes applied last year to build on land currently occupied by Grey Gables Farm on Brindle Road in the town.
But members of South Ribble Borough Council’s cross-party planning committee have since rejected the bid – in spite of a recommendation from council officers to approve it.
A planning inspector will now hold a 4-day inquiry into the proposal, during which evidence will be heard from locals objecting to the planned estate, as well as the council and the developer.
Councillors blocked the housebuilder’s plans over concerns that several of the homes would be sited unacceptably close to the nearby M61 motorway and would suffer from noise and air pollution as a result.
Other factors in the decision included “inadequate” provision of green space and the “clustering” of affordable housing, which planning policy says should instead be dispersed throughout developments to ensure a mix of house types and prevent social exclusion.
The site has been allocated for an estimated 250 homes under South Ribble’s local plan, which determines where development should be considered in the borough.
The Bellway application is for just a portion of the plot and concerns were raised by existing residents that many more homes than expected were therefore likely to be built in total.
A separate application by Persimmon Homes was also rejected by councillors last year for over 250 houses – again, on just part of the overall site.
But, on both occasions, councillors were advised by officers that the 250 figure included in the local plan was not a strict limit. The number of dwellings which a development can accommodate is ultimately assessed by whether it meets other guidelines, such as the space between buildings.
The proposed Bellway estate also prompted concerns from Network Rail about the potential for increased delays to road traffic at a nearby level crossing. The track operator said growing passenger and freight activity along the line could lead to queues close to the Hospital Inn pub.
But highways bosses at Lancashire County Council said the problem of vehicles trying to overtake stationary traffic at the crossing could be resolved with better road markings – which it would ask Bellway to fund.
A final decision on the development will be taken by the planning inspector leading this week’s inquiry, which runs from Tuesday 14th to Friday 17th August at Bamber Bridge Methodist Church on Station Road.
The hearing is open to the public and begins at 9.30am each day, except Tuesday when it starts at 10am.