Residents fighting to save neighbouring greenfield land from becoming a huge business park were over-ruled by South Ribble Council’s planning committee this week.
Councillors approved a masterplan for the 65 hectare Cuerden Strategic Site at a meeting on Wednesday, which was described as ‘very important’ for the creation of employment in South Ribble.
“It’s a hard one; we all like to see greenbelt stay but sometimes planning takes over from nature”Coun Graham Walton
The land, between Lostock Lane in Lostock Hall and Stanifield Lane in Farington, is set to become an industrial estate with houses.
But people already living within the site feel that more needs to be done to assure them that their quality of life will not be affected.
Homeowner Samantha Benson told the committee: “I’m requesting that you defer this decision because there are several questions which are still unanswered.
“You’ve done an impact statement about how the development will affect the wildlife, but where’s the impact statement for us residents about how we’re going to suffer?
“The current roadworks at the Lostock Lane roundabout are causing us to suffer massively - access to our properties has been denied and we’ve lost water and power - and that’s a miniscule job compared to this site.
“It’s going to be a massive industrial estate with houses in the middle, and we’re going to be trapped in our own homes because we can’t sell up and move.
“I don’t believe you have given a second thought to us.”
Council planning manager Helen Hockenhull responded: “We’ve had a number of conversations with residents over the last few months and I’m very aware of the concerns.
“The masterplan has been amended quite significantly to try to add more guidance to protect residential properties.
“I understand some people may not feel that is enough, but this is what we have to go forward with.”
She added: “This plan is very indicative; it illustrates the uses we think are appropriate for the site. There are still some unanswered questions and we won’t have those until the detailed planning applications for the site come forward.
“This masterplan creates the principles for those planning applications to be built on.”
The Cuerden site, which has been earmarked for employment use for a number of years, is one of the single largest economic development sites in the Lancashire, Preston and South Ribble City Deal area, with the potential to create around 2,500 jobs.
Following a public consultation towards the end of last year, the masterplan was amended to also include housing, which was thought to be more in keeping with the area.
The main access route was also changed from Stanifield Lane to the M65 roundabout, following complaints about potential traffic congestion.
Road improvements such as pedestrian crossings and speed reductions are also suggested.
Agent Richard Green, representing applicant Lancashire County Council, said: “We have talked to and understand residents’ views, and the plan has evolved significantly in the last year in response to the issues raised.
“It may not suit everyone, but we feel we have come a long way in understanding residents’ concerns.
“We have been tasked with approaching this as a development site which is very important to the future employment and economic benefits of South Ribble.”
Coun Peter Stettner, who sits on the planning committee, proposed that the masterplan be thrown out because of traffic worries, but fellow committee member Coun Jim Marsh argued: “I think there will be plenty more gremlins before we finish with this, but I think there is enough merit to move this forward.
“I don’t think there is anything to fear here, I propose we approve this.”
Farington councillor Graham Walton added: “The residents have been there quite some time and I do sympathise with them, but this has been on the cards for 30 years and I think the residents knew it was coming.
“It’s a hard one; we all like to see greenbelt stay but sometimes planning takes over from nature.”
Chair of the committee, Coun Jon Hesketh, concluded: “This is a key site in South Ribble which we have been looking at for a number of years, and it will create a lot of employment.
“The slight concern I have is that the existing residents will be impacted on a little bit, and I hope we can treat them fairly.”
The scheme was passed with 13 members voting in favour, and Coun Stettner voting against it.