Tide turning on Garden Street development as water agencies raise flood concerns

Posted on - 6th January, 2021 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News, Redevelopment, Winckley Square
Garden Street apartment site Pic: Google
The plans would see the apartment block built on the site of the disused sports hall Pic: Google

Controversial plans to build an apartment block off Winckley Square have been dealt a blow by the Local Lead Flood Authority (LLFA) and United Utilities.

Both organisations have raised concerns about the flood risk from building at the site of the former Cardinal Newman sports hall in Garden Street, which has a culverted watercourse beneath it and sits within the Winckley Square Conservation Area.

When Preston City Council’s Planning Committee approved the application from Mustaq Bhailok and 1618 architects in July 2020 – despite objections by locals – it was subject to certain conditions to minimise the risk of flooding.

A flood risk assessment from 2019 said the watercourse should be diverted around the proposed building, in order to prevent any damage to the culvert.

Subsequently, however, the application was amended to keep the culvert on its current path.

Speaking in November, a spokesperson for Preston City Council said: “As the application progressed, it became clear a diversion would not be feasible as there is nowhere to divert the culvert due to surrounding buildings.

“The applicant therefore confirmed their intention to retain the culvert on its current line.”

After viewing the developer’s revised plans, the LLFA said in a statement dated 16 December that it objected to the proposal, in part due to a lack of detail but also because a diversion hadn’t been included.

How the proposed apartment block in Garden Street could look
How the proposed apartment block could look

The LLFA statement said: “Although part of our objection can be overcome by the submission of a revised drainage layout drawing, drainage flow calculations and a lifetime management and maintenance plan for the sustainable drainage, part of our objection will remain due to the fact that the surface water culvert has not been diverted in accordance with the flood risk assessment.”

The LLFA’s feedback followed a similar response from United Utilities, provided to Preston City Council in a letter dated 19 November.

The letter stated that a decision on the drainage system couldn’t be given, again due to a lack of information.

The United Utilities letter also raised concerns about historic flooding at the site, and warned the council to consult with the LLFA about the plans to build over the culvert rather than divert it.

Read more: Residents’ flood risk concerns at site of planned Winckley Square flats

The letter said: “Please note we have also been informed of historic flooding occurring at the site, which we understand is associated with the culverted watercourse into which the applicant intends to discharge surface water.

“We request that you consult with the Lead Local Flood Authority over the impact the development may have on the existing culvert that passes through the site. The current intention of the applicant is to build over the culvert and it is not clear if this approach has been agreed by the Lead Local Flood Authority.”

Steve Harrison is a local resident who has campaigned against the development.

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

He said he was not surprised at the objections from the LLFA and United Utilities.

Floodwater on Mount Street, with the sports hall in the background
Floodwater on Mount Street, with the sports hall in the background

“The LLFA has been consistent in opposing any building work over a watercourse. Its initial opposition in 2017 made that clear. It was only when the developer undertook to divert the culvert that the LLFA dropped its outright opposition and set conditions it still wanted to see plans for, including to divert the culverted watercourse.

“It came as a shock to those of us who opposed this development when Preston‚Äôs planners introduced a separate condition at the very last moment on the day of the Planning Committee meeting – a condition to protect the culvert.

“It was only when the public responded to media accounts of the planned building by providing photos, accounts and published reports of the history of flooding on the site that the authorities became aware of the extent of the flood risk that was posed.”

Steve now says he hopes the LLFA and United Utilities objections will put a stop to the development.

He said: “What worries me is that Preston‚Äôs planners can approve this development even though the LLFA and United Utilities find the proposals unacceptable.

“I only hope that the Planning Directorate can now accept that this was an
ill-advised proposal from the start.”

Preston City Council said the LLFA and United Utilities comments are now being assessed.

Councillor Peter Moss, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning and Regulations at Preston City Council said: “Determining planning applications is a complicated process, often requiring appropriate conditions to be identified in order to address a wide range of potential issues.

“During the consideration of the Garden Street development application, neither the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) or United Utilities raised an objection to the proposal. It is worth noting that the conditions set were based on the recommendations of these two organisations.

“However, since approving the planning application in July 2020, the Council has received an application to discharge the conditions, which has prompted the recent comments from both United Utilities and LLFA. This is currently being assessed by Council officers. Any further details that are submitted, together with consultation responses will be available to view on the Council website in due course. 

“We take our responsibility as a Planning Authority very seriously and carefully consider all relevant factors in our decision-making processes.‚ÄĚ

Visit the Preston City Council website to view the full application and the discharge of conditions.

Read moreSee the latest Preston news and headlines

What do you think of the LLFA and United Utilities objecting to the flood risk plans? Let us know in the comments.

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