Housing estate on Preston/Wyre border would "stick out like a sore thumb"

A major proposed housing development which would effectively straddle the border of Preston and Wyre has been thrown out for a second time.

Monday, 18th January 2021, 12:18 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th January 2021, 8:10 am

An outline application by Seddon Homes to build 100 properties off the A6 Garstang Road near Bilsborrow was first rejected last February.

Preston City Council's planning committee has now concluded once again that it would lead to the “unplanned expansion of [a] rural village…which has a limited number of services and facilities”.

Bilsborrow itself lies in Wyre, but granting permission for the development on land to the northern-most part of Preston would lead to the urbanisation of the surrounding open countryside area, Preston planning officers said.

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A view across the proposed site for 100 new homes on the edge of Bilsborrow, off the A6 Garstang Road (image: Google Streetview)

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However, the housebuilder blasted the authority for not giving greater weight to what it claimed would have been an unprecedented amount of green space incorporated into the scheme.

Planning agent Joshua Hellawell told the committee that the 9.5 acres of such space was of a proportion in relation to proposed development which he had never encountered before in Preston.

He acknowledged that some of the area to be used for that purpose was prone to flooding, but said Seddon Homes could have just opted to exclude it from the site altogether rather than commit to weaving it into the design.

Mr. Hellawell added: “In addition to the affordable housing provision [35 percent of the estate], the highways contribution to the A6 strategy is in excess of £130,000 and the education contribution is anticipated to be upwards of £980,000.”

However, a report to committee members noted that the site was not within the defined settlement boundary of Bilsborrow – as would be expected under Wyre Council’s local plan – and that the proposed development would be “disproportionate” to the level of planned growth in the borough.

Barton Parish Council chair Roger Hacking said it would be “significantly detached from the main village, making it stick out like a sore thumb”.

“It would extend the rural village of Bilsborrow [and] destroy a large area of open countryside to the detriment of residents and visitors to the area,” said Mr. Hacking, who also warned of the impact of increased traffic on the already busy A6.

Committee member Peter Moss also suggested it was misleading for the developer to compare the situation in Bilsborrow to other cross-border developments between the Preston and Ribble Valley council areas near Longridge – because of the size of the latter area.

Fellow committee member David Borrow described the plans as “appalling”.

“The issue that has not really been addressed is the extent to which this damages the area of separation between Barton and Bilsborrow…and actually completely changes the character of Bilsborrow,” he said.

The committee heard that Seddon Homes was one of several developers to obtain legal advice late last year suggesting that Preston City Council’s development policies were out-of-date because of a change in the way their annual minimum housing need is now being calculated.

If that were proved to be the case, the city council could be forced to approve applications even on land not earmarked for development – like the Bilsborrow site – unless any benefits were “significantly outweighed” by the harm they would cause.

The position is likely to be tested at two public inquiries into other refused planning applications to the north of Preston in the coming months.