'Why should affordable homes be more tightly packed?' asks councillor of new Preston estate

An estate made up entirely of homes for affordable rent will be built in north west Preston, after being given the go-ahead by councillors.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 9:50 pm

Work is set to begin within weeks on 51 properties off Sandy Lane in Cottam, which will include terrace and semi-detached houses, along with two small apartment blocks.

However, concerns were raised by several members of Preston City Council’s planning committee that the dwellings would be more densely packed than those on other developments in the area where the homes are being sold on the open market.

There will be 44 properties per hectare on the Sandy Lane estate, compared to the 35 recommended in a Central Lancashire-wide housing study.

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The plot off Sandy Lane where 51 affordable properties will be built

Cllr Sue Whittam criticised what she noted was a trend with affordable developments.

“Why should we have higher density for affordable houses?” she asked.

Planning officer Jonathan Evans said that the smaller profit margins on such schemes might be driving developer decisions on spacing, but added: “When you consider [this estate] in the context of all the other housing around it, it doesn’t have the appearance of being significantly denser.

“That is partly due to the provision of apartments that [will take] up less room than detached dwellings.”

Wainhomes will split their affordable homes quota across two neighbouring sites - the newly-approved plot and this estate to the north west of it

The application is a revised version of a previously mixed tenure proposal for the plot by Wainhomes. The change is to enable the firm to achieve the city’s requirement for 30 percent of properties on new developments to be classed in the affordable category, when considered across both this and a neighbouring site which is under its control.

The homes will each be available to rent at 80 percent of market levels.

Cllr Jennifer Mein said she found it “quite surprising” that a developer could be permitted to cluster affordable homes on one estate rather than “pepper pot” them across all of their sites in the area.

Mr. Evans said that the plan for the 51 affordable properties needed to be “viewed in a wider context than just looking at this application in isolation”.

“In terms of North West Preston and Wainhomes’s land holdings, [the rented housing] will still be pepper potted and there will still be affordable dwellings in other parts of their development,” he said.

The estate will be developed by Breck Homes and managed by social landlord Places for People.

Planning agent Paul Williams, representing the trio of applicants, told the committee that the council’s spacing standards would be met on the estate.

He added: “The Central Lancashire Housing Needs Study identifies the need for 250 rented affordable homes each year in Preston between 2018 and 2036.

“That exceeds the recent peak achieved of 213 and the longer term average of 78 completions, This development will help to meet this continued shortfall,” Mr. Williams added.

United Utilities did not raise any objections to the development, provided foul and surface water discharge was drained via separate systems.

However, committee member Neil Darby said that the firm had acknowledged in correspondence with residents in the area that the sewer system was “over capacity”.

Expressing “real concerns” about the risk of flooding, Cllr Darby was one of four councillors – including Cllr Whittam – to vote against the application, which nevertheless passed with seven members in favour of it.