Time’s up for plans as new developments will transform city

The Alstom Factory on Strand Road
The Alstom Factory on Strand Road
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MAJOR development plans for sites in Preston will never see the light of day - but their demise could kickstart more redevelopment in the city.

Applications were approved almost a decade ago to rip down historic buildings to make way for hundred of homes and community facilities.

An application to bulldoze part of the Alstom engineering site in Ashton to make room for more than 200 homes was given the green light in 2008, but that permission is now defunct because no movement has been made by the applicants.

Permission for family homes and student accommodation at the former Goss Graphics site was also granted in 2008, but has since lapsed, with a new use for the site now in place by the University of Central Lancashire.

Another of the plans which is now defunct is an application for two apartment blocks on the site of a former warehouse in Manchester Road, including 14 flats and three retail units.

The applications have been cleared from the desks of Town Hall bosses, which leaders say will make way for new development in the city.

Coun Peter Rankin, leader of Preston Council, said: “These are out-dated planning applications from as long ago as 2006 when, of course, there was a totally different market and mind-set.

“Since then, Preston has grown from strength to strength with the £430m City Deal and major investment in the city centre such as the Bus Station, Markets Quarter and Preston Guild Hall.

“It’s good practice to close down planning permissions that simply have no prospect of delivery and could even put off potential future development at those sites.

“It’s a mark of the growing confidence in Preston that we are proactively doing this - opening up all opportunities for the future whatever they maybe.”

Paul Walton, director of Preston-based PWA Planning, said the development proposals were drawn up ahead of the recession and are now “not where the market is”.

He said apartment developments were “still a challenge in urban areas” with the exception of major cities, and said: “Mass private-rented in Preston, for example, is just not where the market is at the moment.

“If it were viable and made a reasonable return in investment it would be done, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”

He said Preston Council was under pressure after it emerged the authority did not have a five-year supply of housing land, and said: “If the land supply incorporates sites that have very little chance of coming forward, they will be criticised heavily for that.

“This is all about reviewing their forward housing supply which is a sensible thing for them to do.

“And in the long term it will result in other sites coming forward for development and that will be a benefit to Preston.”