Councillors and housebuilder barter over bungalows at South Ribble planning meeting

A decision was delayed last month over concerns that the proposed new development was not in-keeping with existing properties
A decision was delayed last month over concerns that the proposed new development was not in-keeping with existing properties
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A developer has been given the go-ahead to build more than 170 homes in Farington after telling councillors that they would not be able to extract any further concessions about the design of the proposed estate.

Last month, South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee asked Kier Homes to rethink its plans for the site off Banister Lane. Members said the development should be stripped of two-and-a-half storey houses and suggested that only bungalows should be built along the border with existing properties in the area.

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A revised application brought before the committee saw the addition of six dormer bungalows along a stretch of Banister Lane and a reduction in the number of two-and-a-half storeys across the site from 50 to 44. But the meeting heard that there was no prospect of the developer going any further.

“The wholesale removal of two-and-a-half storey house types would make the scheme unworkable,” said Paul Walton, from consultants PWA Planning.

“Further changes will not be possible and a decision needs to be made on the basis of the plan before you today.”

Committee members were told by officers that a council-backed plan for the site permitted the taller properties – but they still expressed mixed feelings over other elements of the revised proposal.

“I don’t believe Kier have done all that we [wanted] when we deferred the decision,” Coun Caroline Moon said.

“There are properties on Banister Lane [which benefit from the added bungalows], but there are others on Croston Road for which that mitigation is not in place – you’re spoiling this for an ha’porth of tar,” she added.

Local resident Tim Holmes pointed out that 25 existing dwellings back on to the proposed development – but only six bungalows were being offered by the developer.

But when it appeared that members could be about to defer the decision again, they were advised by the council’s head of planning, Jonathan Noad, that the application was time-limited – and that developer could soon appeal on the basis that the committee had failed to reach a decision.

Members were also told that the bungalows issue was not a strong ground for refusal, because the proposed development met – and in several cases exceeded – the minimum separation distances required between new and existing properties.

In a move which he acknowkedged was “unusual”, committee chair Caleb Tomlinson invited the agent back to the table following his presentation, to see if the developer could be persuaded to make any further movement.

“Is this definitely the final offer?” Coun Tomlinson asked.

“Absolutely, I can’t be any clearer,” Mr Walton replied.

“We’d like to move forward and we’d like to do that positively,” he added.

A proposal to defer the decision for a second time was defeated and members voted by a majority of nine to three to approve the application, in line with the recommendation of council officers.

‘MADE-UP TERMINOLOGY’

One Farington Moss resident was unhappy that Banister Lane will be used to access 11 of the new properties on the estate. South Ribble planning policy dictates that the road is not to be used for primary or secondary access – but the Kier application classifies the proposed use as “tertiary”.

Kevin Barrow said that description amounted to “playing with words” – because the local highways authority Lancashire County Council had told him it was not “official terminology” which they used.

“Why did South Ribble Borough Council accept this obvious attempt to avoid complying with planning policy by the use of made up terminology?” Mr Barrow asked.