Preston City Council to challenge lost Barton appeal - and defend its refusal of hundreds of other homes

Preston City Council has vowed to fight on in its long-running battle with developers over attempts to build hundreds of homes in villages to the rural north of the city.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 10:06 pm
Updated Sunday, 21st March 2021, 12:02 am

The authority plans to launch a legal challenge to a decision by a planning inspector last week to overturn its refusal of an application for more than 150 properties on land off the A6 in Barton.

Wainhomes had appealed against the rejection of its plans for the plot at Cardwell Farm, which is in an area of open countryside that is not earmarked for development in the city’s local plan.

However, planning inspector Mark Dakeyne ruled in the housebuilder’s favour, based on his conclusion about the method that should be used to calculate how many new homes Preston should be obliged to build every year. The city council will now mount a statutory challenge to the ruling.

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Cardwell Farm in Barton, where 151 homes were approved by a planning inspector last week

The authority also still intends to defend its decision to refuse proposals for just over 600 properties across seven sites, six of which are around Goosnargh and Whittingham.

Developer appeals over those applications are due to go before a joint planning inspectorate hearing which will begin on 13th April. One of the sites is the subject of an appeal against refusals for both outline and full planning permission, meaning there are seven cases to be heard in total.

As the Post revealed earlier this year, one of the arguments that the council will deploy in relation to the plans for developments in Goosnargh is that they would ruin its rural setting.

The authority will contend that the scale of the proposals would result in “a radical change to the character” of the village and “collectively destroy [it] as a rural settlement and its intimate relationship with the surrounding countryside”, a meeting of the council’s planning committee was told in January.

Bushells Farm, off Mill Lane in Goosnargh - one of six sites subject to appeals next month over refusals of planning permission

Cabinet member for planning and regulation Peter Moss said that the council had decided to challenge the Barton decision after conducting a “thorough review and [seeking] external legal advice”.

He added: “We maintain that the council’s case is sound and that the inspector either failed to address, or failed to explain, how he addressed key material considerations that were raised as part of our case. This means that we believe the decision is unlawful and therefore are making a statutory challenge.

“Because of this, we will proceed with the upcoming planning inquiry relating to the seven conjoined appeals in Goosnargh and Longridge.

“The council does not enter into litigation lightly, but equally cannot leave this situation unchallenged. We appreciate the ongoing support of Barton Parish Council and residents in this matter.

“We are committed to providing homes for people through plan-led development in appropriate and sustainable locations. I think officers work skilfully and incredibly hard to identify the right opportunities that best meet the needs of our growing city and best serves our residents.”

All seven of the appeals to be heard next month – as well as the Barton case – turn on whether the council can show that it has five years’ worth of land allocated to meet its new housing needs, as required under planning legislation.

That assessment depends on how the minimum requirement for housing is calculated – with three different methods being a possibility.

At the Barton hearing, the inspector ruled that the city was falling fractionally short of a five-year supply, registering 4.95 years on the basis of his conclusion that Preston should be building at least 507 homes per year.

PLANNING BATTLE

These are the sites that will next month be the subject of appeals by developers against refusals of planning permission by Preston City Council:

Bushells Farm, Mill Lane, Goosnargh – 140 homes

Land north east of Swainson Farm, Goosnargh Lane – 87 homes

Land at Swainson Farm, Goosnargh Lane – 40 homes

Land north of Whittingham Lane – 145 homes

Land south of Whittingham Lane – 80 homes

Land around 826 Whittingham Lane – 65 homes

Old Rib Farm, Longridge - 45 homes

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