Flats plan for Fulwood bungalow site sparks "uproar" amongst neighbours

There is fury amongst residents of a street in Fulwood at the prospect of a ‘unique’ bungalow being converted into a two-storey block of flats, a meeting of Preston City Council’s planning committee heard.

Friday, 7th August 2020, 11:55 am
Updated Friday, 7th August 2020, 11:56 am

Members were told that neighbours of the planned development on Tower Lane were strongly opposed to it – with claims that views, light and peace and quiet would all be lost if the scheme were allowed to go ahead.

However, the committee unanimously approved the controversial proposal – but with several councillors expressing their reluctance as they did so.

Developer JDF Homes Limited is now free to press ahead with its plans to put an extra level on the currently unoccupied dwelling, along with a two-storey extension to the rear and single-storey add-ons to the sides of the building.

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The bungalow on Tower Lane was designed by a Preston architect back in the 1950s - but it will now be bulldozed (image: Google Streetview)

Solicitor Katy Rider, representing residents living nearest to the plot, said that the proposal would be “a complete change of use and change of character”.

“It will overwhelm the bungalow-sized plot of land. It is intended to be twice the height of the current building and will be completely overbearing.

“More neighbours wanted to speak at this meeting than are allowed – there is uproar,” Ms. Rider added.

The plans were recommended for approval after officers concluded that the new building would not have an adverse impact on existing residents, because there was already a mix of house types on the street – including two-storey flats on nearby Castle Mount.

However, local resident James McAlea said that the proposal made “no attempt to blend in with existing traditional properties” – and did not respect the importance of the existing building.

“The design of the new development lacks any of the creativity shown by the renowned Preston architect Keith Scott CBE on the original.

“[The bungalow is] the only one of its type in Fulwood – and possibly the whole of Preston – designed in the post-modernist style. It should be restored back to its original 1954 standard.

“[The plan] would be a gross overdevelopment of the site, putting purely commercial above community interest,” Mr. McAlea said.

However, principal planning officer James Mercer said the council’s planners had come to a different conclusion.

“The footprint of the building is not increasing greatly. The first floor is a substantial extension, but there are other two-storey properties on the street,” Mr. Mercer explained.

He added that the proposed five parking spaces were “appropriate” for the development.

Committee member Susan Whittam said that she felt “quite sorry for the residents – but we haven’t really got any grounds to turn this down”.

Fellow member David Borrow said that proposed changes to planning laws to make it easier to create two-storey dwellings meant that it was probably better to approve the application while the council at least had some say on other elements of the plan.

“[But] I don’t like the development and I’m not happy with it,” Cllr Borrow added.