Why residents of a Leyland apartment block want to stop their private car park being turned into an access road

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Residents of an apartment block in Leyland say that the private car park in front of their homes should not be used as an access road for a new development next door.

South Ribble Borough Council has granted permission for six further apartments on land off Butlers Farm Court.

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But some of those living in the existing block told the authority’s planning committee that they are paying for the upkeep of what will now become a public thoroughfare.

“This so-called access road is a car park and for the last 13 years, our maintenance bills have paid for it,” resident Carol Livesey told councillors.

“If anything goes wrong with the road, we are responsible for it - and now cars will be coming in and driving over our water metres,” she said.

When a council officer told the meeting that the issue was “not a material planning concern”, several residents in the audience shouted out, “Why?”

The car park area is currently unadopted - meaning the local highways authority, Lancashire County Council, does not maintain it.

One committee member, Barrie Yates, suggested residents still held the destiny of their driveways in their own hands - even though councillors’ hands were tied.

“We can give planning permission, but if [the developer] can’t get access, it’s not our problem,” Cllr Yates said. "If it’s in your deeds that the area is your property, then nobody can go across it without your permission.”

The meeting heard that the occupants of the new block would share the future cost of the road’s upkeep. Chris Wheetman, agent for the developer, said an “agreement” had been reached that it would be maintained in the same way.

He also rejected a suggestion that the development could act as a gateway to bigger building projects on neighbouring land.

“The application is very limited - there is no wider development, as no other part of the land is under the applicant’s control,” Mr Wheetman said. “You have a 3-storey apartment block and this is another 3-storey apartment block next to it - I don’t see how that can be out-of-keeping.”

Committee member Michael Nelson raised a concern that, during site clearance work which had already taken place, the fast-growing Japanese knotweed plant had been spread across the area.

But Jonathan Noad, South Ribble’s Director of Planning, said the issue was covered by separate legislation and was not part of planning policy.