Plans to build 1,100 homes on Pickering's Farm in Penwortham are set to be thrown out over link road and traffic concerns

Long-running and controversial proposals to build 1,100 homes in Penwortham are set to be rejected when they are considered by councillors next week.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 2:51 pm

Members of South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee will be advised by the authority’s planning officers to block the latest bid to develop part of the site known as Pickering’s Farm, which runs between the A582 Penwortham Way and Leyland Road.

Concerns over traffic and the completion of South Ribble’s cross-borough link road are amongst the main reasons for the recommendation to refuse two joint applications by Taylor Wimpey and Homes England.

A proposed masterplan for the wider 79-hectare plot – which could accommodate 1,350 properties – was thrown out by the committee just over a year ago after being condemned by councillors for a lack of detail. Related outline applications for 1,100 homes were subsequently withdrawn – but have now been revised and put back on the table.

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However, a report to the planning committee – which will hold an extraordinary meeting next Monday (29th November) to discuss the proposals – states that there are “a number of matters which the developers have failed to resolve”.

Highways bosses at Lancashire County Council have outlined concerns with “all aspects” of the plans as they stand, noting what they describe as a lack of “acceptable information” – and planning committee members will be told that they do not represent a “firm commitment” to providing the cross-borough route in full.

South Ribble’s local plan requires the creation of a new east-west connection across the district, running through the Pickering’s Farm site from Penwortham Way to join up with an already-completed section of new road linking The Cawsey to the A6.

There are no plans to install a footpath on this bridge on Bee Lane - in spite of it being proposed as an access route for 40 new properties as part of the Pickering's Farm development

The applicants state that their proposal to create a spine road – at their own expense – through the part of the site under their control will be able to be amalgamated into a full cross-borough link “if the council wish[es] to deliver it in the future” – and so is “fully consistent” with the requirements of the local planning policy.

Meanwhile, Network Rail has warned that use of the existing Bee Lane bridge over the West Coast Mainline to provide access for 40 dwellings could pose a risk to pedestrians – and the bridge structure itself, in the event of a crash – because of the absence of any plans to create a raised footpath alongside the highway.

A masterplan for the overall site has been submitted in support of the two new proposals, but not as a standalone document – with South Ribble Council concluding that there is no “comprehensive” agreed strategy for the location, contrary to another stipulation in the local plan.

Taylor Wimpey and Homes England have submitted a brace of applications – one for 920 homes off Penwortham Way, including a local centre for retail, employment and community uses, a two-form entry primary school and green infrastructure – and another for 180 properties to the east of the overall site close to the railway line.

The narrow bridge on Bee Lane crosses the West Coast Mainline

They state that the development will come with “all the ingredients needed to create a sustainable community” and that the “health and wellbeing of both the existing and new residents is central to the master-planning and decision-making process”.

However, campaign group Keep Bee Lee Rural – which is vehemently opposed to the proposed development of the Pickering’s Farm site – has submitted three detailed objections to the latest applications in relation to traffic, school places and flood risk.

The rejected masterplan that was put before before the planning committee in September 2020 outlined that 2,000 homes could be built on the overall plot if currently safeguarded land to the south of the site is ultimately released for development.

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