Preston City Council tied by national planning policy

Tempers flared at a debate as Preston City Council’s planning committee voted through proposals for 125 houses in Barton.
Preston Town HallPreston Town Hall
Preston Town Hall

One resident of Jepps Lane, where the houses are to be built, told councillors: “You are choosing to approve, you have a choice, you do not have a gun to your head.”

Speaking ahead of the vote chairman of Barton Parish Council Roger Hacking urged committee members to block the Story Homes application and go to appeal.

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Addressing the room he said developers “should be building on brown field sites, not green sites”.

But, although councillors were sympathetic, they said the city council was bound by National Planning Policy Framework.

One councillor asked a planning officer to explain the Framework.

The officer said: “In 2015 there were two applications.

"Preston was of the view that it did have a five year land supply.

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"An inspector came to the conclusion that Preston does not. It means we must engage the tilted balance.

"The key test that the authority must do is ask whether a housing application ‘significantly and demonstrably outweighs the benefits’.”

The officer added: “The development plan promotes a focus on developing on brown field sites.

"The council does not submit applications, its up to the developers.”

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During the meeting coun Neil Darby said he had “real reservations about the application.”

However when he was asked to provide a motion to block the application he was not able to provide one which would stand up on appeal.

An officer explained: “If you are going to be formulating a reason for refusal you need to be satisfied that the proposal doesn’t comply with the development planning policy.

“You have to justify refusal otherwise if this goes to appeal we are at risk of costs.”

Coun Darby said he did “not feel confident on that basis”.