Developer fails in bid to build on "safeguarded" land in South Ribble

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A housebuilder has failed in its attempt to overturn a decision to refuse planning permission for up to 100 new homes in a South Ribble village.

Wainhomes wanted to build the properties on land which is not currently earmarked for development off Chain House Lane in Whitestake. But South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee refused the application back in June.

The decision was determined by how much land is available for housebuilding in South Ribble over the next five years

The decision was determined by how much land is available for housebuilding in South Ribble over the next five years

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Members rejected the developer’s claim that the authority could not demonstrate that it had five years’ worth of land available to meet its housing requirements. Under national planning rules, that would have left the council compelled to grant permission for building on the so-called “safeguarded” plot.

Wainhomes appealed against the decision, but a planning inspector has now backed the local authority’s position.

The housebuilder had claimed that South Ribble had only a three-year supply of housing land available. That was based on a requirement for it to build 417 homes per year - a figure dating back to 2012, which was arrived at under an agreement with neighbouring Preston and Chorley councils.

But that tally was deemed by the inspector to be out of date. A new government-set method of calculating housing need introduced earlier this year found that South Ribble needed to build only 206 homes per year.

The three Central Lancashire authorities are currently in the process of formulating a new agreement which would determine how the housing numbers for the entire area are split between each council over the next three years. Under that proposed arrangement - which has separately been threatened with a legal challenge by a consortium of developers and planning agents - South Ribble’s share of new dwellings would be significantly higher, at 334 per year.

However, the inspector found that in either scenario, the district has more than five years’ worth of housing land available - anything between six and ten years, depending upon the housebuilding target which is ultimately agreed.

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The inspector also concluded that granting permission would be contrary to South Ribble’s existing local plan which stipulates that land identified as safeguarded should “for the most part remain undisturbed” until that plan is replaced.

He agreed with the council that the proposed development could “prejudice potential, longer term, comprehensive development” of a wider area of safeguarded land to the south of Coote Lane, of which this plot is only a part.

That area - although protected under the current local plan - could be earmarked for an alternative use in future. South Ribble had argued that such alternative use did not necessarily mean the creation of housing, but possibly employment units or the maintenance of open space.

The inspector concluded that the planned estate would represent a “disconnected pocket” of housing in a currently undeveloped area.

South Ribble, Preston and Chorley councils are currently consulting on the creation of a joint local plan for Central Lancashire which will determine where development should take place in the region up to the mid-2030s.