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Harris Park housing plans blocked by Preston City Council as campaigners declare victory

Posted on - 5th December, 2020 - 4:45pm | Author - | Posted in - Business, Cadley, Campaigns, Fulwood, History, Housing, Politics, Preston buildings & attractions, Preston Council, Preston News, Redevelopment, Sharoe Green
The former orphanage became the Harris Knowledge Park when owned by the University of Central Lancashire Pic: Tony Worrall
The former orphanage became the Harris Knowledge Park when owned by the University of Central Lancashire Pic: Tony Worrall

Campaigners battling to stop homes being built within the grounds of Fulwood’s former orphanage at Harris Park have been victorious.

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Preston City Council’s planning committee voted to reject the proposals from multi-millionaire owner Yousuf Bhailok.

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Harris Park, built in 1884, is said by Historic England to be one of the finest examples of a garden village in England.

Proposals from Cassidy + Ashton had 23 new homes being built on land behind the orphanage, and in-fill housing and the conversion of the former orphanage building itself into apartments.

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This proposal was a reduction on an original planning application for a total of 69 new homes on the site.

A new access road onto the A6, at Garstang Road, Fulwood, would also have been created.

Opposition to the plans saw more than 200 objections from those living in the area.

Heritage groups including Historic England, Save Britain’s Heritage, the Victorian Society, Lancashire Garden Trust and Sport England also objected.

Aerial view of the Harris Park site Pic: C+W/Save Britain's Heritage
Aerial view of the Harris Park site Pic: C+W/Save Britain’s Heritage

The cricket pitch within the grounds is one of the pitches trained on by England cricket and Preston legend Andrew Flintoff.

Read more: Campaign group persuades Lancashire County Council to remove Tulketh Hall site from auction

What the campaigners had to say

Leading the campaign group, the Friends of Harris Park, Fulwood resident Prema Taylor said; “Joanne and I are pleased that the applications for development on Harris Park were refused at the Planning Meeting today.

“We are overwhelmed with the support and encouragement we have received from the members of our group and others sympathetic to this campaign. We are extremely grateful for the financial donations, professional and other contributions to this effort.

“We thank the Planning officers for their patience and diligence and Councillors for their fair and balanced approach.

“We must also mention our appreciation for the speedy, professional and expert advice we received from Leith Planning. We take no pleasure in conflict and would much prefer to collaborate to achieve the vision we have for Harris Park.

“The community have made their feelings very clear and the Owner has, in a previous conversation, indicated to us that he would be happy to sell Harris Park at cost price. Hopefully we will be able to find sponsors and funds and move forward to reclaim, restore and repurpose Harris Park so it can once again be enjoyed by local residents and visitors to Preston.”

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The campaign group raised more than £2,000 to afford legal advice in their objections to the planning applications.

Councillors voted to reject the plans on Thursday (3 December) saying they would ‘introduce an unacceptable suburbuan development’ within the grade-II listed park and gardens.

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Mr Bhailok bought the Harris Park site from the Univertsity of Central Lancashire in 2006, when it was used as a conference centre.

A spokesman for Cassidy + Ashton said: “Refusing the applications will not benefit the site, it will not provide a future – it will simply kick the can down the road.”

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

What do you think about the decision to reject the Harris Park plans? Let us know your views in the comments below

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