Row breaks out between residents and developers in plans for Winckley Square apartment complex

Posted on - 7th September, 2020 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Housing, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News, Redevelopment, Winckley Square
Garden Street apartment site
The plans will see 47 apartments built on the site of the disused sports hall. Pic. Google Streetview

A row has broken out between local residents and developers of a new apartment complex planned for Garden Street near Winckley Square.

The development, submitted by Mr Mustak Bhaliok and 1618 architects, will bring over 40 residential units to the site of the old Sports Hall which used to belong to Cardinal Newman.

Local residents say they are not happy with the development, with one saying he feels ‘the planning process has not functioned as it should’ and that the ‘information flow and the consultation process has been compromised’.

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Steve Harrison said: “A key element is that the Planning Directorate persuaded Mr Bhailok’s company to abandon earlier plans for the conversion of the existing building into apartments and instead demolish the existing building  and replace it with something much higher and with greater density.

“The planning officer who gave that advice to the developer then became responsible for dealing with the application that was subsequently submitted by the developer and with making decisions about what information was shared with the councillors and what was withheld.

A sunny day in Winckley Square Pic: Tony Worrall
Winckley Square holds a lot of Preston’s history Pic: Tony Worrall

“It was soon obvious that the systems that are in place are stacked in favour of the developer. Just looking at the application form, it was littered with significant inaccuracies.”

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Steve told Blog Preston he only became aware of the application when images were published of a proposed skyscraper high above the historic roofscape of Winckley Square.

The form confirms the development is not near a water course however Steve states there is a water course which flows below the site.

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“So, I asked in June 2019 why the application was allowed to proceed with inaccurate declarations by the developer,” he added.

“I was told it would mean starting again and there would be costs of advertising for Preston City Council.

“That’s when local people began to dig more deeply and discovered matters of serious concern, not just about this application but about the silencing of the voice of local people.”

Councillor Peter Moss, Deputy Leader of Preston City Council and Cabinet Member for Planning and Regulation, said:

“We have a fair, impartial and transparent planning process and strive to engage with members of the public and other concerned parties with every planning application we receive.

“In this specific case the applicant submitted a Flood Risk Assessment which, following amendments, was accepted by Lancashire County Council in their role as the Lead Local Flood Authority.

“Members of the public were given two opportunities to share their views on this application. The initial application was put to the public for consultation where any concerned party could share their views.

“Following feedback from the first round of consultation the applicant amended their submission, after which we launched a second consultation where further opportunity was given so that views could be heard on the amended plans.

“Planning is a complex and highly regulated process. While we appreciate that planning decisions can sometimes be unpopular, our officers approach planning applications with professionalism and integrity, aiming to achieve the best results for the city within the confines of national planning policy.”

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What do you think about the development? Will it effect the history of  the area? Let us know in the comments

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