‘A haven for drug dealing and prostitution’ is the fear residents have about proposals for a new car park near the city centre.Advertisement
Friends of the St Ignatius Square Conservation Area have tabled their objections, along with nearby homeowners, to Preston City Council’s plan for Penny Street.
A new 76-space car park could be created on the land between Penny Street and Hardwicke Street off North Road.
Planning permission has been applied for to last three years, as a temporary car park while the Market Hall car park is demolished and a new one built.
Part of the land falls within the St Ignatius conservation area.
Chairman of the friends group Nick Millband said: “Whilst residents respect the fact that the Council own this land, the plans presented do not leave adequate access to the rear of residents’ properties, and do not contain any landscaping to soften the harsh outlook of an urban car park.
“In fact the plans specifically state that no landscaping will be undertaken. The existing trees and shrubs that have grown on the land offer excellent screening visually, and from noise and air pollution. These will all be lost. Indeed, two mature trees have already been felled by Council contractors prior to the planning application.
“Even if that does not happen, a significant increase in noise and air pollution from the starting of vehicle engines on the car park will certainly ensue. Residents are also concerned that their wheelie bins will be tampered with or made use of by car park users as the plan does not specify any security barrier between it and the narrow path designated for residents’ use.
“The narrowness of this path will also make it extremely difficult to move bins to the collection point on Penny Street past the bins of other residents. The bins are left at the rear of the properties in many cases as the tiny back yards of these properties are too small to contain them.
“The placing of a car park here would also create a precedent for similar use of brownfield sites which runs contrary to the guidelines of the European Commission Directorate-General for the Environment in their document ‘Reclaiming city streets for people – Chaos or quality of life?’ This document has a number of best practice case studies in which the reduction of parking provision within cities has been shown to have long term positive benefits.
“A meeting has already been held with Russell Rees, head of planning at the Council, with a view to reaching a compromise position. Following this the council have rejected what I feel is our reasonable proposal to create a wider easement between the car park and residents’ back gates with appropriate screening and security.
“It appears, therefore, that the Council is not prepared in the least to consider the amenity and health and wellbeing concerns of residents and executes an approach to planning policy firmly entrenched in the dark days of the 1960s and 70s when so many inner city planning mistakes were made across Britain to the detriment of the communities living within them.
“The Friends feel that a more appropriate use of the land would be to turn it into a small inner city green space with seating and landscaping in keeping with the Conservation Area status that part of it holds. This would present a much more appealing view at what is in essence a key gateway route into the city.”
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Planning officers at the city council have recommended councillors approve the plans.
They write: “The proposed temporary use of the site as a car park would not prejudice an existing employment use of the site nor would it prejudice the long term future redevelopment of the site for an employment use. The proposal would also bring a currently plot of land back into active use.
“The development is also considered acceptable in terms of impact upon the highway network, highway safety, visual amenity, surface water management and the impacts on heritage assets.”
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