Major Planning Decision Pending in South Ribble with Regional Implications

February 27, 2020

South Ribble Council is preparing to defend its rejection of a Wainhomes scheme in Whitestake in the High Court, a project which has proved significant after a planning inspector’s ruling on the case overhauled how housing need was assessed across central Lancashire.

In December, a Government planning inspector found in favour of South Ribble, after Wainhomes appealed the council’s rejection of 100 homes proposed on Chain House Lane.  Wainhomes has now lodged an appeal against the inspector’s decision, which will see the battle taken to High Court.

However, while the planning inspectorate falls under the remit of the Secretary of State for housing, communities & local government, the Secretary of State has already responded to Wainhomes admitting it does not support aspects of the planning inspector’s ruling.  The inspector’s decision has already had wide-reaching implications for housing across central Lancashire.

When the planning inspector dismissed Wainhomes’ appeal, as part of the process he also reviewed the housing supply position of South Ribble, which also included neighbouring areas.  South Ribble, Preston, and Chorley councils are working together to deliver a joint Central Lancashire Development Plan and see themselves as one housing market.

According to the inspector, the calculation being used by the authorities to predict housing need was out of date. Under the Government’s new recommended standard methodology, which reduces the number of homes that need to be built annually, South Ribble could prove a five-year land supply, and so can Preston and Chorley.

At a planning committee earlier this month, Preston overturned approval decisions on 10 applications for almost 1,000 homes, based on this shift in policy, although a further 1,500 homes were granted consent at the same meeting.  The projects had previously been to committee and councillors had voted to approve, however decision notices had not yet been issued, leaving the schemes open for the council to reassess.

In a statement, Cllr Bill Evans, cabinet member for planning, regeneration and City Deal at South Ribble Council, said: “The council is aware of the position taken by the Secretary of State on the Wainhomes case. The council has taken legal advice on the case and has considered the position carefully. South Ribble Borough Council considers that the Planning Inspectorate decision on the proposal was the right one and should be defended. We are therefore continuing the defence of the decision despite the position taken by the Secretary of State.”

Chris Hayward, director of development at Preston City Council, said: “We are aware that there is an ongoing High Court challenge to the recent appeal decision and that the Secretary of State has conceded on one of the grounds of the challenge. However, we consider that the appeal decision is robust and support the decision by South Ribble Borough Council to defend it. We will continue to take the conclusions drawn from the appeal into account when determining planning applications unless and until the decision is set aside by the High Court.”

Wainhomes declined to comment when contacted by Place North West.

Article by Jennifer Middleton-Pugh at Place North West.