Shops plan dropped for new South Ribble housing estate

Councillors have relented over a developer’s decision to ditch plans to build shops on a new estate in Lostock Hall – and instead fill the space with more houses.

Thursday, 29th October 2020, 10:34 am
Updated Thursday, 29th October 2020, 9:18 pm

South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee last month expressed annoyance over Morris Homes’ application to construct an additional dozen properties as part of the 281-dwelling former gasworks site off The Cawsey.

The extra homes were to be built on a strip of land previously reserved for retail and leisure units when outline permission for the overall development was granted back in 2013.

However, the developer argued that plans for a Lidl store on the nearby Penwortham Mills estate – the site of the former Vernon Carus factory – would render the proposed shop units unviable.

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Retail and leisure space had been planned for the entrance to the estate off The Cawsey

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Developer criticised for dropping shops plan for new South Ribble estate

The matter was ultimately deferred amid separate concerns over the fact that part of the road to serve the new properties was not intended to be adopted.

When the application returned to the committee entirely unchanged, several councillors expressed their disappointment – but were forced to drop their opposition.

Members were told that the original 2013 outline permission expired after five years – and an associated masterplan with it.

While separate approval for the detail of the 281 homes was granted in 2015, there are now no material plans in force dictating an overarching vision for the site and the originally-proposed retail plot.

South Ribble planning officer Janice Crook said that the council had sought legal advice about the status of the retail centre – but that it was not in the authority’s favour.

Committee member Will Adams – who previously said the move by Morris Homes “reeks of a developer who knows the rules and how to get around them” – accepted that “there isn’t much we can do to refuse this application”.

Cllr Mary Green rubbished the suggestion in a retail report that residents of the new estate would walk a mile to Tardy Gate for their basic shopping needs – and expressed concern over what would happen if the Lidl proposal did not materialise.

“[People] will jump in their cars, which is going to cause a massive impact,” she said.

The committee heard that at the time of the recent meeting, the Lidl application had not been submitted, but was expected before the end of October.

Members were also told that Lancashire County Council would not adopt a road used to access fewer than five properties – and because only four of the 12 additional houses were planned to be accessed from an unadopted stretch, there was no reason to refuse the application on that basis.

The application was approved by a majority of nine to one abstention.

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