Future of eyesore closer to a decision

Derelict: The former D J Ryan's building on Inglewhite Road
Derelict: The former D J Ryan's building on Inglewhite Road

The future of a notorious eyesore on the outskirts of Longridge could now be determined by the planning inspectorate.

Longridge-based Dewhurst Construction has finally appealed against Preston Council’s refusal of plans to build 10 detached homes at the former D J Ryan’s depot, which also include demolishing the decaying and now boarded up building fronting Inglewhite Road.

Councillors refused proposals to develop the site because the developers failed to include affordable housing in their plans, even though planning officers recommended they gave the go-ahead, saying they were willing to overlook the lack of affordable housing because of the “significant and overriding” regeneration benefits.

Whittingham Parish Council and Longridge Parish Council also both supported the development for seven detached four bedroom houses, one detached four bedroom house with an adjoining double garage, one detached three bedroom house with a single garage and one detached three bedroom detached house with double garage, on the grounds the brownfield site was an eyesore.

Following the council’s refusal last summer, Longridge builder Chris Dewhurst criticised the decision to turn this third set of plans for Ryan’s down saying it was “very unfair” and vowed to appeal.

Together with partner Alan Riding, he said the site was bought for £650,000 over eight years ago and would be unviable if they were to adhere to incoming planning policy decreeing 35 per cent of new house values in rural areas must be affordable.

Mr Dewhurst said not long after they bought the site a housing moratorium was brought in by Preston Council meaning their only hope to get plans approved would be to submit proposals for a housing and office mix, which they did in 2004 and which were duly given the go-ahead.

But then the recession arrived and Mr Dewhurst said there was no demand for office units and they “sat on it” as the development had become unviable.

Over the years he said they had also been required to decontaminate the area, removing petrol and diesel tanks also carrying out numerous surveys and reports - be it for bats or asbestos - to meet with planning policy.

He believed they had spent in the region of £1m and could not afford to carry out the affordable housing requirements set by the council. The site, which used to be home to the Old Poplar Foundry, was last used by civil engineering firm D J Ryan as a head office.

In December 2011 a second planning application for 20 houses submitted by Alan Riding Builders, of Alston, was turned down when the council said the developers’ offer of £117,150 towards off site affordable housing was not enough.

The council wanted £161,700 from the proposed Inglewhite Road development for 20 new detached, semi-detached and terraced houses in lieu of on site affordable housing.

The developers claimed on site affordable housing would not be financially viable with no registered social landlords having shown any interest.