Retail plan rejected as councillors storm out

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Controversial plans to build a new retail “hub” in Preston have been rejected, after five councillors stormed out of a public meeting.

Ward representatives had argued a discussion on plans for a new food store, petrol station, restaurant and pub on land north of Eastway should be deferred, because of the late publication of a report.

When it was agreed that the debate would go ahead at yesterday’s meeting, they left the room, fearing they couldn’t represent the views of residents.

Plans had been lodged for the new development, including new access from Eastway with landscaping and public realm areas, and were recommended to be minded to approve, subject to a section 106 undertaking being prepared.

However, the remaining councillors went against the officers’ recommendation, throwing out the plans because of fears of an adverse effect on the Cottam Brickworks site.

The committee was told the development in the Greyfriars area of the city would create more than 400 new jobs, and that an independent report suggested there was enough demand for a new supermarket.

The planning committee was told by an agent for Hollins Strategic Land that the project would not have a significant or adverse effect on the deliverability and viability of the Brickworks development.

But John Clarke, director of Cottam Hall Properties – developers for the Cottam Brickworks site – said: “This application will have significant adverse impact on the Cottam District Centre, undermining it and putting its delivery at risk.”

He said there was a lack of appetite for new food retail stores, and feared a competing site would “dilute” the demand for the Brickworks site.

Addressing the meeting, Coun Stephen Thompson described the plans as “premature” and said: “It seems to be a piecemeal development. We have a masterplan because we want to plan the whole thing out to get a cohesive plan together, and this is dropped in and just seems to oppose that whole plan.”

He raised fears over traffic, and added: “What we need in Preston now is houses.

“We don’t need this – this would put in jeopardy other developments that are in the pipeline.”

Coun Pauline Brown added that she feared the Brickworks project was at risk of becoming “Ingol and Cottam’s Tithebarn”, because of the risks of it being “blocked by other agencies”.

She said: “Reject this application and tell planners to build homes.

“We are in great danger of creating a new Deepdale Retail Park and we know the traffic problems there.

“We don’t need another retail park taking trade from Preston city centre.”

The plans were rejected by five votes to four, because of the potential impact on the Cottam Brickworks site, and potential traffic problems.