A Government planning expert has said a golf course targeted for more 500 homes should remain undeveloped for the next 15 years.
Planning inspector Richard Hollox said the former Ingol Golf Club was playing a crucial role in separating pockets of housing in the Ingol and Tanterton and Cadley and Greyfriars areas of the city.
His report also endorsed a plan drawn up by councils in Preston, South Ribble and Chorley which sets out the broad principles of future development across the three boroughs over the next 15 years.
Today, one leading opponent who fought the planning application led by developer Northern Trust, owned by Preston North End owner Trevor Hemmings, said he hoped the report would provide long-term protection for the area.
In his report, Mr Hollox said: “Public rights of way are limited, but its actual presence as overwhelmingly open land is of greater consequence in justifying its protection.
“A stroll over much of the land between these settlements enables appreciation of its attractive, tranquil, open and often sylvan character, and this alone is convincing evidence upon which to base this part of the policy.”
Coun Bill Shannon, who represents Ingol on Preston Council, said he believes the inspector’s comments would provide protection for the area for the duration of the plans.
He was part of the three-year battle against Northern Trust’s plans which ended last year when proposals were thrown out by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.
He said: “To all intents and purposes this report recommends the protection of open space in that area for the next 15 years.”
The agent appointed in March to find a firm to take over operating the site as an 18-hole golf course has revealed it has received some interest.
Charles Heygate, a golf course specialist at agents Strutt and Parker, said he had spoken with a number of potential operators since his firm was appointed by Northern Trust in March.
He said: “There is nothing finalised yet, but there has been interest.”
In his verdict on the Local Plan drawn up by the three local councils, the planning inspector said it provided “a clear vision” for future development.
The plan lays out areas targeted for development as homes. shops and employment sites.
A separate consultation is underway across Preston, South Ribble and Chorley to pinpoint exact areas targeted for development.