A parish council is poised to take the fight against a controversial housing development further and seek a judicial review.
Whittingham Parish Council has already submitted a formal complaint to Preston Council after the city’s planning committee gave the go-ahead to plans for a development of 93 new homes on agricultural land north of Goosnargh Lane, at the back of Holme Fell, submitted by companies Seddon RDP Ltd and Contour Housing Ltd.
The proposed development, opposite the village green, comprises a mix of two, three and four bedroom detached and semi-detached houses with 28 open market homes and 65 affordable ones, 17 of which would be single storey and 76 two storeys high.
Whittingham Parish Council submitted its formal complaint on September 15, after the committee passed the plans by a vote of seven to five and clerk Julie Buttle says they are now awaiting a response from the council, which, she says, will not be made until the council and the applicants have agreed the terms of the proposed conditions of the 106 agreement accompanying the permission.
This, she says, has to be made by October 17 and the city council has until October 18 to reply to Whittingham’s complaint.
Once a reply is received, she said the council is to seek legal opinion on whether or not the city council’s decision is considered to be valid, as a preliminary stage in preparing a complaint to the ombudsman and a judicial review.
She said the parish council has a sum of £5,000 in reserves which councillors had agreed could be used for any legal costs.
“At the moment we are writing to a number of barristers to ask for a legal opinion if the decision is sound,” she said.
Mrs Buttle said her council was “still aggrieved” at the city council’s decision because the proposed development would be in open countryside and enough affordable homes were provided for elsewhere on the former Whittingham Hospital site.
She said the council was also querying the legality of a grant from the Homes and Communities Agency towards the affordable housing element of the proposed development.
Government policy decreed such a development could only be allowed in the open countryside if it was classed as a “rural exception” with 100% affordable housing.