Ruling shows Preston "will defend its position" on housebuilding, says city councillor

Preston City Council has successfully defended an appeal against its decision to refuse permission for the building of a single house in Barton.

By Paul Faulkner
Sunday, 8th March 2020, 3:11 pm

A planning inspector ruled that the authority was justified in rejecting the proposal – in spite of the fact that, at the time, it could not show that it had allocated enough land to meet housebuilding targets.

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However, the council’s cabinet member for planning, Peter Moss, said the wider significance of the ruling lay in what it revealed about the authority’s willingness to refuse applications even when it cannot demonstrate the required five-year supply of housing land.

Cllr Peter Moss, Preston City's Council's cabinet member for planning and regeneration

When the city’s council’s planning committee made the original decision last year, Preston was in just that position. It meant that planners had to presume that every application put before them should passed – irrespective of whether the proposed development was on land earmarked for that purpose.

The situation saw plans approved for more than 900 homes during 2018 and 2019 in villages to the north of the city which were not reserved for housing in the council’s local plan.

The only option for refusal in those circumstances is if the adverse impacts of the applications would “significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits”. That was the reason deployed in the Barton case, which has now been upheld on appeal.

“Clearly, this shows that, where it’s appropriate, the council will defend its position – because we have had criticism in the past where it’s been indicated that’s not been the case. This clearly indicates that we will do so and do so successfully,” Cllr Moss said.

Permission for a single house in Barton was rejected last year

The originally-approved applications for the 944 homes in villages including Broughton and Whittingham were reversed last month on the basis of a separate planning inspectorate decision in South Ribble which had implications for housing numbers across Central Lancashire. However, the developer in that case has launched a high court challenge to the decision, the outcome of which could affect the status of the Preston applications once again.