Local centre planned for Preston suburb is scrapped

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North West Preston is becoming a “mass of houses with no amenities”, a councillor has warned.

Woodplumpton Parish Council vice-chair Paul Entwistle spoke out as he urged residents to oppose plans to scrap a local centre that had previously been proposed as part of one of the many new estates being built in that corner of the city.

Preston City Council will next week consider a revised outline application by Taylor Wimpey to build 352 properties on land off Tabley Lane and Sandy Lane in Higher Bartle. Planning officers have recommended that the authority’s planning committee approves the proposal.

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The proposed estate in Higher Bartle, outlined in redThe proposed estate in Higher Bartle, outlined in red
The proposed estate in Higher Bartle, outlined in red

When it was first put forward last year, the scheme totalled 500 dwellings – and included land set aside for a secondary school and a local centre that could have included shops or other community facilities and services.

Under the revised blueprint now being proposed, the size of the plot to be given over to the school has been increased from 4.08 to 4.88 hectares – but the area for local facilities has been scrapped.

Taylor Wimpey notes that a neighbouring development for which rival housebuilder Wainhomes has been granted permission also proposes the inclusion of a local centre.

However, Cllr Entwistle says that the outline nature of that approval means that there is nothing set in stone about the Wainhomes plan either – meaning that residents could be left with no community facilities on either development.

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“Words are cheap – deeds take a little more effort. We understand that minor changes will take place, but what we find is that local centres suddenly disappear.

“Our concern here is that one [developer] decides to take it out on the basis that another might be putting it in – but what’s to stop the other one [doing the same] so you end up with absolutely nothing?

“We see this all the time – major developments, indicatively at the beginning to win planning approval, have these wonderful centres and all the things that go with them. But then as time goes on, we find that they are removed and replaced with more houses.

“You’ve got a perfect storm of developers wanting to make more money and Preston City Council appearing to accept it and not fighting to maintain what was originally [proposed],” Cllr Entwistle said.

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The North West Preston masterplan proposes building around 5,500 homes across a 20-year period up to the mid-2030s. However, Woodplumpton Parish Council claims that the increasing absence of facilities is at odds with the original vision for the area.

Cllr Entwistle says that the way the developments are taking shape is putting “significant pressure” on existing services such as GP surgeries – and he is calling on residents to raise their voices and see the “big picture” that is being painted before their eyes. The parish council claims that a local centre is needed on both the Taylor Wimpey and Wainhomes developments.

“Amenities are going to be overwhelmed – but we are an apathetic nation. People are good at moaning, but when it comes to doing something about it, a lot of people just give up and say, ‘It won’t make a difference, so we won’t do anything’.

“But the more people who object and the more people who put constructive comments in – the more chance we have of changing minds…and influencing the decision makers.”

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The revised Taylor Wimpey proposals also include a continuous green corridor linking Sandy Lane to Tabley Lane, as well as connecting two metropolitan parks planned for the area.

If the plans are approved, the company would not be required to meet the standard quota in Preston of ensuring that 30 percent of the properties on the estate are classed as affordable. The firm argued that other financial contributions demanded of it as part of the development – as well as the reduction in the number of houses and the increase in land reserved for the school – would make the development unviable if it also had to provide affordable homes.

Taylor Wimpey will stump up £3,105,268 in community infrastructure levy and will also make a £500,000 part-contribution to the construction of the new East-West link road.

However, Woodplumpton Parish Council has lodged an objection to the fact that access to the estate will be taken not only from the East-West link road, but also Tabley Lane. Two access points will also be created from Sandy Lane.

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A spokesperson for Taylor Wimpey said: “We understand and appreciate the concerns of local residents regarding our revised proposals for a new development in Woodplumpton, and we would like to reassure them that a separate application for access from the new East-West link road has been submitted to Preston City Council and can be seen on our latest layout plan.

“Following a viability assessment with the Preston City Council, we have omitted the local centre as part of our amended planning application. However, the land that Wainhomes has acquired adjacent has outline planning permission and will include a local centre.”

Preston City Council’s planning committee will consider the Taylor Wimpey application at its next meeting on 4th November.

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