Electricity pylon concerns over ‘linear park’ for Cottam

Posted on - 14th May, 2023 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Cottam, Parks, Politics, Preston News
The Sandy Lane pylons would run right through the proposed new park Pic: Google

A senior councillor has called for a tree canopy to form part of a huge new park set to be cultivated in Preston – in order to protect it from the blight of the electricity pylons that will run straight down the middle of it.

The so-called “linear park” will be formed from a narrow strip of land that spans the rapidly-expanding north west of the city in Cottam.

The facility has been in the pipeline since a masterplan for the area was adopted in 2017 to guide the development of the 5,500 new homes that it is expected will be built along a corridor to the south of the M55 by the mid-2030s. The green space will stretch in a south-westerly direction from the junction of Sandy Lane and Bartle Lane to a point just north of Hoyles Lane.

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The presence of pylons in the linear park – one of two “metropolitan parks” proposed for the new housing hotspot – is acknowledged in the longstanding plans for the wider location. The masterplan document pledges to make “beneficial use” of the land that lies beneath the gargantuan infrastructure.

However, with planning applications for individual estates in the immediate vicinity now being brought forward, concerns have been raised over the worth and wisdom of creating a park that is bisected by structures which polarise public opinion.

During a recent meeting of Preston City Council’s planning committee – at which councillors gave the go-ahead to 455 new houses by developer Wain Homes on land abutting the planned park – the authority’s cabinet member for the environment, Carol Henshaw, said that the landscaped area would “seem to have no value, to me, if it’s got pylons running the whole length of it”.

“If you think of the word ‘park’ in your head – and you think of a children’s [play area] – you don’t want [children] underneath pylon cables, do you? I wouldn’t,” said Cllr Hensahw, who proposed an alternative vision for the space as one for running or “active travel”.

“I can picture a lovely canopy of trees so that the buzz of those horrible pylons may be soaked up a little bit” she added.

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A public objection to the Wain Homes estate – which will see the developer sell more than eight acres of land needed for the park to the city council for the nominal price of a pound – outlined similar concerns over youngsters playing in the shadow of powerlines.

City council planning case officer Robert Major said that the masterplan had likely reserved the space surrounding the pylons for a park because it was not otherwise “developable”.

However, he added that the facility was intended as a way of connecting the different parts of North West Preston and would have paths running through it that would link to the Guild Wheel and the second planned park, which is earmarked for an area further east and directly south of the M55. Roads would also necessarily have to cut across it at some points, Mr. Major said.

He warned that any trees planted to mitigate the effects of the pylons would have to be of varieties that would not grow too close to the power cables.

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However, councillors were also told that the design of the park would ultimately be in their hands as it would require a formal planning application from the authority itself, on which committee members would have the final decision.

The meeting heard that the city council had requested developers hand over the land needed for the linear park – rather than each create the parts of the facility within their own developments – so that there was some consistency to it.

The masterplan provides for a raft of open and green space in the newly-developed areas, designed to ensure that they meet the principles associated with a so-called “garden city”. A series of local parks, neighbourhood play areas and a larger “destination play area” will be created.

Read more: Cottam and Broughton primary schools add extra places

The two metropolitan parks will “provide substantial areas for a range of activities and purposes for all ages”, according to the masterplan.

The eastern of the two facilities is intended to be a more formal civic area with landscaped gardens and play areas, compared to the linear park beneath the pylons.

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