Residents' safety and flooding fears over new Preston North End training ground

A resident living close to a planned new training ground for Preston North End has claimed that locals and site workers will be left at risk by construction plans for the facility - while another warned that the development will increase the chance of flooding in the area.

Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 3:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 11:11 pm

The concerns were raised at a meeting of Preston City Council’s planning committee which was deciding whether to approve a series of technical conditions for the site on the former Ingol Golf Club.

The Lilywhites were granted permission for the training ground back in 2017, followed by later approval for up to 450 homes elsewhere on the disused course to help fund the project.

But North End have only until 9th August to begin work on the plot - or else they will lose the original permission.

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How the new Ingol facility could look

Committee members voted to approve and discharge the conditions, relating to about 15 percent of the site in the south east corner of the former course. But two locals said the drainage and construction arrangements were unsatisfactory.

Dukes Meadow resident Bruce Ellison said plans for HGV traffic to access the area via Lightfoot Lane, Whychnor and Walker Lane posed a danger.

“The traffic plan pays no [attention] to the prospect of wagons driving past the Harris Primary School at the start and end of the day.

“Walker Lane is narrow - it’s difficult to negotiate even in a car and impassable by large construction equipment,” he said, questioning why earlier demands for site traffic to travel via Boys Lane had been dropped.

Flooding on Walker Lane after Storm Ciara (courtesy of Keith Linton)

Meanwhile, Keith Linton - who lives on Walker Lane - warned that the effects of Storm Ciara last month showed that the plans increased the risk of flooding. He presented a series of pictures showing his road under 40cm of water after Sharoe Brook - which will receive water drained from the new development - burst its banks.

“I’m concerned that the amount of water from the four proposed pitches will be such an amount that the culvert, as it exists, won’t be able to cope - and we will experience far more flooding than we have previously,” said Mr. Linton, who requested more detailed plans to address the issue.

Committee member Cllr Jennifer Mein also expressed concern that drainage rates would be increased after the facility is built, so that players would be “left with a nice surface” on which to train.

But Natalie Beardsworth, the authority’s head of development management, said that the council could only concern itself with any flooding impact from the completed development.

Is Wychnor wide enough for construction traffic? (image: Google Streetview)

“The conditions don’t deal with what’s happened in the interim period while the golf course is closed and that site has been vacant. There is an interim period which the [council] cannot be responsible for controlling - that’s down to the landowner.

Principal planning officer Robert Major also pointed out that Lancashire County Council - as the highways and flooding authority - had not objected to the discharge of any the conditions being considered.

Daniel Hughes from PWA Planning, the agent for the application, said that the CEMP had been resubmitted with additional information which County Hall had been seeking.

Regarding the potential for flooding, he added: “There [will be] a very minimal difference in non-permeable area [between the current golf course and the training ground]. From the photos [of Walker Lane], it looked like there was a blockage somewhere.”

The discharge of the conditions means no further detail has to be approved by the city council on those matters before work can begin.

Following the meeting, a spokesperson for Preston North End said: “PNE have put the planning and works required to move forward with our training ground plans at Ingol in the hands of third party contractors.

“If you require a detailed response to the points raised in yesterday’s planning meeting we are more than happy to put your detailed questions to them and we will then respond.”

The club last month revealed that they are looking to develop their current Springfields training ground as an 'interim solution' while they await the Ingol facility.

EMERGENCY CALLS COULD BE ‘DISMISSED AS A HOAX’

Planning committee members heard claims that the address on the construction and environmental management plan (CEMP) for the south east part of the development was wrongly listed as the now defunct Ingol Golf Club.

Bruce Ellison said he feared the issue could cause confusion in the event of an accident on site during construction.

“The golf club no longer exists, it’s a building site - and it’s a ten-minute drive from the proposed site. I’ve requested that this address is changed.

“If you discharge [this condition] you will all be responsible if there is an accident leading to death or life-changing injury due to the extra time taken for emergency services to reach the site - if they can find it,” he warned.

Speaking to the Post after the meeting, Mr. Ellison said the area where work can now begin was the “most isolated part” of the golf course.

“If there is an incident, the emergency services will go to the housing estate and find nothing there. They might even write it off as a hoax call - and even if they don’t, they would then have to go all the way round to get to the correct point,” he added.