Protesters powerless as housing plans are passed in Whittingham, Goosnargh and Broughton
Another onslaught of fresh houses are now to befall Whittingham, Goosnargh and Broughton.
The unpopular developments come despite outrage from residents in the villages and a host of opposition from politicians.
Members of protest group Whittingham and Goosnargh Against Overdevelopment say that the cumulative impact of the houses - some of which are being passed and others which are waiting to be built - mean that their area will mushroom to be three times its current size.
Councillors at Preston City Council have also expressed their indignation at having to vote unsustainable applications through at development meetings.
The latest building developments granted are for up to 111 homes at land behind 126A Whittingham Lane in Broughton and another 140 homes at Bushells Farm in Mill Lane, Goosnargh.
But a combination of problems means that Preston councillors are often left with no choice but the pass the unpopular plans.
Heavy criticism was levelled at Lancashire County Council’s Highways department during the course of the planning meeting.
The authority came under fire particularly in relation to the Whittingham Lane and Bushells Farm developments.
Residents urged members of Preston City Council to take into account the “cumulative impact” that the level of development in Whittingham and Goosnargh would have on surround roads, particularly the A6.
But councillors speaking at the meeting said that because Highways had not objected to either build, although it raised concerns, they therefore had no grounds to refuse.
Coun Stuart Greenhalgh said: “LCC have concerns about the highway network but they are not in a position to show these concerns. I find myself almost in a hostage position.
“LCC is sitting on the fence and it’s about time it was brought to task to provide the information to reports like this.
“This site isn’t sustainable and on the back of LCC’s failure to go against it I find myself in a very very very difficult position.”
With no formal evidence from LCC on the cumulative affect the increased motorists might have on the A6 councillors were not able to block the development.
They feared that if they did so, the decision would be taken to appeal at great cost.
A spokesman for LCC said: “Our responses to planning applications as the highway authority must be able to stand up to detailed scrutiny through the planning appeal process such as at a public inquiry, and we therefore have a duty to ensure all supporting evidence is accurate and reliable.
"With regard to the A6 corridor there are a large number of factors, of which some are complex, influencing how existing traffic will use the roads as the highway network itself changes as the area develops.
“Highway officers are currently working on a detailed highway model to ensure these can be considered.
“This task of producing an accurate highway model for a number of scenarios and time periods, which all must stand up to scrutiny, is very complex and time consuming, however we expect the modelling element to be completed in the coming weeks and reporting to follow.”
Because Preston City Council cannot show that it has a five year housing supply it is having to wave through development applications that it might not otherwise.
Between the period of 2010-2026 Preston, Chorley and South Ribble must deliver a total of 22,158 new homes.
For Preston this breaks down to a minimum of 507 dwellings per annum.
However planning documents from PCC state: “The council cannot currently demonstrate a five years supply of deliverable housing land.”
Following the authority’s planning meeting in December Preston North MP Ben Wallace called for Preston’s planning department to be put into special measures over the issue.
He also called for the number of houses the council was required to build be reviewed.
Finding himself stuck in between a rock and a hard place coun David Borrow said on Thursday’s planning meeting: “We haven’t got the five year supply because builders aren’t building.”
Coun Peter Moss repeated his mantra on a trend of land banking at a time when the UK suffers from a housing crisis.
He asked: “Who is to blame for the position the council finds itself in?
“Is it us as local politicians for not understanding the problem?
“Is it us for not granting enough applications?
“Is it nimbies for objecting to new houses?
“Is it developers for not coming forward with applications?
“Or is it builders for hoarding land?”
Land banking has been defined as ‘the practice of buying undeveloped land purely as an investment, with no specific plans for its development’.
Broughton Neighbourhood Plan
A controversy over the Whittingham Lane development also came under scrutiny at the meeting.
The village of Broughton had voted in a Neighbourhood Plan in October 2018.
This was to counteract Preston City Council, which is under pressure to pass developments because it cannot demonstrate a five-year housing supply.
However an anomaly the application threw up was that a section of the site in question fell within the boundaries of Broughton parish while another section fell within Whittingham’s boundaries.
This meant that the development application did not necessarily come fully under the protective umbrella of Broughton’s Neighbourhood Plan.
Speaking against the Whittingham Lane development Broughton Parish Council chairman Pat Hastings said: “The lack of a five-year housing land supply for Preston means that the planners recommend permission.
“But Broughton’s Neighbourhood Development Plan alters that situation and allows for a three year land supply.
“However the site is one third approximately in Broughton Parish with the Neighbourhood Plan and two thirds within Whittingham Parish.”
She continued: “There is no legal precedent for a split site but this is not the reason to ignore the Broughton Neighbourhood Plan. The city council should reject this application.”
Explaining the reason that she had recommended the application in favour of approval one PCC planning officer said: “This hasn’t been an easy decision. This is an unusual and complex situation, we have not been in this situation before. The framework doesn’t give advice. We have dealt with this in isolation.
“We have spent a long time considering this.
“Given the circumstances we have decided that it weighs more heavily in favour of granting planning permission. It’s a very very complex planning issue we are dealing with here. It’s a balancing act.”
In theory rubber stamping a Neighbourhood Development Plan allows residents to take control of the applications for developments in their area.
According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government “Neighbourhood planning gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their local area.
“They are able to choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built, have their say on what those new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided, and grant planning permission for the new buildings they want to see go ahead.”