'No need' to build in Preston countryside to provide enough affordable homes

Preston has enough housing land in the pipeline to ensure that it can meet the need for affordable homes in the city without having to build on plots not earmarked for development.

Monday, 18th January 2021, 12:30 pm

That was the message from the city council as its planning committee rejected an application to build 32 properties in Broughton designed for first-time buyers or renters.

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Social landlord Community Gateway Association (CGA) wanted to create the estate on the narrow Pudding Pie Nook Lane off Whittingham Lane – an area designated as open countryside.

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It was claimed that the proposed development on Pudding Pie Nook Lane would have little impact on the surrounding area (image: Google Streetview)

CGA’s Marcus Fisher told a meeting of the committee that the proposal – for a mix of affordable rent and shared ownership properties – would have “little visual effect on the surrounding area” and could be delivered without “any significant impact”.

“We strongly believe there is a significant need and a real demand for affordable housing of all kinds in all areas of [Preston] – and we can’t see any way this is going to be met in the foreseeable future.

“Because of this, we feel the need to take advantage of as many suitable opportunities as we can – providing they are sensible, not damaging,” Mr. Fisher said.

However, a report presented to the committee stated that there was “no accurate and up to date information on affordable housing need in Preston, and in particular in the rural areas of [the city]”.

The meeting heard that the city’s annual minimum housing need figure of 250 properties per year – arrived at under a government-set formula – meant that it had more than 13 years’ worth of housing land available, compared to the five required under planning legislation.

Committee member – and cabinet member for planning – Peter Moss said that negated CGA’s claim that the application site should be considered an exception under rules which allow for housebuilding on land not reserved for development, provided it is for “entry level” occupants.

“[Our] ongoing supply will more than meet the demand for affordable housing in the Preston area.

“While I would fully encourage developers to come forward with affordable housing, it does appear at this stage that the demand and the need in Preston is being met,” Cllr Moss added.

Michelle Woodburn, from campaign group Goosnargh and Whittingham Against Overdevelopment, also said it was important to “preserve the character of this little single track lane”.