Controversial calls have been made to switch round a busy one-way street in Leyland town centre.
Councillors discussing proposals for a new social housing development in the town ended up with a split vote, after it was admitted that the council ‘got it wrong’ when designing Chapel Brow 10 years ago.
South Ribble’s planning committee was last week unable to agree on a way forward with regards to plans for 33 affordable properties to be built at the former Fishwick’s bus depot site in Hewitt Street, off Golden Hill Lane.
Suggestions that problematic Chapel Brow is ‘back to front’ and that the one-way system should be reversed to tackle traffic issues in the area put a spanner in the works.
And the project now hangs in the balance after the planning decision was deferred to allow more time for road considerations to be clarified.
Progress Housing Group warned funding for the scheme could be pulled and the proposals scrapped.
Leyland town centre councillor Derek Forrest, who also sits on the planning committee, said: “I was on the regeneration team for Chapel Brow some years ago when we were deciding which way traffic should go on the one-way system, and I can’t help but feel now that we got it wrong.
“It’s a terrible junction. We weren’t so much worried about traffic coming from Hewitt Street back then because the bus depot hadn’t been used for years.
“But now we’re back to where we were 10 years ago, worrying about cars coming out of Chapel Brow. We created a problem by sending traffic up Chapel Brow, and now we’re introducing a new one.”
Fears were raised that extra cars coming out of Hewitt Street, which is located down the side of the Old Police Station which was recently Coppers Tea Rooms, would create extra pressure on the already busy junction of Chapel Brow.
The railway station entrance is also just a few yards away, and there is a residential street across the road on Golden Hill Lane.
Coun Forrest added: “I don’t want to sit around and wait for someone to be killed before we do something.
“We need to take a step back and put the pause button on this [planning application], and try to think about how we can improve the roads.
“It would ease my conscious to know that we at least looked at it in detail. Lives are more important than money. I propose we defer this.”
He then asked if Chapel Brow could be reversed.
Coun Mary Green, also on the committee, said: “This is such a good location for affordable housing in terms of public transport and shops - on the surface it seems like a good idea - but I was a councillor in that area for four years, and there are many issues relating to traffic safety. I know Lancashire County Council’s highways have said they have no objections to this, but we know from experience that what they say isn’t always the correct judgement.”
Coun Graham Walton argued: “I can’t see the point in deferring this until the next planning meeting in October. The matter won’t go away. We’re always pushing for affordable housing in Leyland and South Ribble, and we class county highways reports as bible. I propose we approve this.”
John Ambrose, from Primrose Holdings, which was asked by New Progress Housing to locate land for social housing in the borough, warned that funding from the Homes and Communities Agency could fall through if the scheme wasn’t passed on Wednesday, because work needed to start on the site soon.
“If this is put back to the next committee meeting, it will put a strain on our workload and our work progress,” he said. “It will affect the deliverability of the scheme.”
He said that the project would need to be complete by March 2016 to secure the funding, so Progress would need to start on site by a ‘certain time.’ He added that the site was chosen because it had been allocated for housing in the council’s Local Development Framework.
The committee’s vice chairman, Coun Caroline Moon, said: “I challenge any organisation which would remove funding when all we’re asking is for a period of time. We’re not saying we’re minded to refuse this - we’re saying we’re minded to approve it, but we want more clarity from highways.”
A vote to defer the decision resulted in six in favour and six against, with one councillor abstaining. Chairman Coun Jon Hesketh had the casting vote, and opted to defer the decision for the next meeting in October.