Villagers admit they are beaten

Opposition: Coun Neil Cartwright
Opposition: Coun Neil Cartwright
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Villagers fighting a housing development have been forced to wave the white flag after being told: “There’s nothing you can do to stop it.”

Residents of Grimsargh near Preston turned out in force at the city’s planning committee for the second time in three weeks hoping to halt a cluster of luxury homes being built opposite their village green.

But despite being supported by sympathetic councillors, they lost their battle after officers ruled there were no grounds under planning law to refuse the application.

“I’m very disappointed with the outcome,” said householder David Thomas whose property is adjacent to the site at Whitefriars, Whittingham Lane. “We believe there are grounds to oppose this and that’s why we battled so hard. But this is probably the end of the road for our campaign now.

“We fought the fight and ultimately we haven’t made any progress. So many people objected, yet it doesn’t seem to matter.There just doesn’t seem any way of stopping it. We are feeling a little flat at the moment. It’s very frustrating.”

The scheme, to build eight executive detached houses with price tags of between £430,000 and £600,000, was given the go-ahead despite objections lodged by more than 200 residents. The plot, currently occupied by a 100-year-old house and its gardens, is next door to a smaller clutch of homes called Silver Birches, built by the same developer, which will share the same accress road.

The villagers claim the two schemes are really phases one and two of the same estate and together cannot be classed as small scale development. They fear the new houses could “destroy the quintessential nature” of their rural lane.

Coun John Browne said: “I don’t want it to happen. I don’t want to see more houses there. But what is happening is perfectly legal. I feel annoyed, but I can’t see any reason to refuse it.”

Ward councillor Neil Cartwright, who has been fighting the plan alongside the villagers, added: “This could now be used as a marker for other developments deemed to be small scale.

“It’s a disappointing outcome. But, as much as I disagree with the scheme, I’m afraid there is nothing anyone can do now.”