Concerns have been raised that ‘secret’ agreements are being made on the future of the former Leyland Motors Test Track after a series of meetings were held in private at South Ribble Council.
Up to 750 homes are planned for the site in Moss Side, with community facilities, employment and commercial uses also on the cards.
A masterplan for developing the site was expected to be drawn up by April this year, and road infrastructure work and the first phase of houses are set to be built by 2016/17, with the whole project due to be complete by 2017/18.
But after a series of confidential meetings were held about the land, which were classed as ‘exempt items’ on the council’s agendas, residents have told the Guardian they are worried progress is being made ‘under cover’.
They also fear some of the council-owned land surrounding the Test Track has already been sold to developers.
But the council has insisted this isn’t the case, and said that work will not start on the site any earlier than initially outlined.
Coun Stephen Robinson, cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “Some confidential reports have been produced about the site in recent months.
“The reports contain commercially-sensitive information, so it has been necessary for them to be confidential in order to protect taxpayers’ money and the interests of other parties involved.
“There should be no surprises for any of our residents where the former Moss Side Test Track is concerned.
“The community was extensively consulted about it as part of the production of our local plan.
“Also, any discussions that have taken place between interested parties have been based on the development brief which was approved by the council three years ago.
“Contrary to some reports, the council has not yet sold any of its land around the site.
“The council is committed to not only protecting the existing open green spaces in the area, but to enhancing and adding to them.”
He said the next stage would be the preparation by the developer of a detailed masterplan, which would then require the approval of the council’s planning committee. This would be subject to full public consultation as part of the planning process, and is not likely to happen before the end of 2015.