Almost half of the homes on a new estate in suburban Preston will be designed by the people who end up living in them.Advertisement
The development – just south of the M55 in Higher Bartle, Cottam, – has been described by the city-based housing association behind it as “unique”.
Community Gateway Association (CGA) has been granted permission for the scheme, off Tabley Lane, twice in as many years. However, the application was back before a recent meeting of Preston City Council’s planning committee, because of a complication over the purchase of the land – where it was given the nod for a third time.
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Twenty-six of the 58 properties on the site will be so-called “custom builds”. That means the purchasers will be able to dictate the design of their new homes, within what CGA calls “agreed parameters” needed in order to “reflect the surrounding development”.
Homebuyers will be given so-called “plot passports” to guide them through the choices that they can make, which CGA’s Marcus Fisher told a December 2021 gathering of the committee – at which the plans were first put forward – would largely relate to the internal layout of the dwellings.
He said at the same meeting that the idea was to help people to whom the idea of a self-build home appealed, but who “haven’t really got the confidence or the means” to fulfil their dream.
However, in the 12 months to October 2021, just three people had declared an interest in self or custom-build opportunities in Preston, via a register that local authorities have to maintain in order to monitor demand.
The plots reserved for the custom builds will be clustered around green space that will act as the focal point for the development and a connected, neighbouring estate of 175 properties.
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A report presented to the committee explained that the two previous approvals of the plans – the most recent of which was in November last year – had been contingent on an agreement subsequently being reached over issues including the level of affordable housing to be provided and the securing of a financial contribution towards the cost of the recently-opened East-West Link Road, which serves the multitude of new homes being built in the wider area.
However, the document explained that CGA had encountered “difficulties” with the current landowner who, committee members were told, had declined to sign that agreement – known as a “section 106” – before selling the plot. Marcus Fisher said that CGA’s “only option” as a result of the impasse was to ask the city council to agree to what he acknowledged was the “slightly unusual” situation of granting permission before the section 106 had been finalised.
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He said it was “too great a risk” to CGA to proceed in any other way, but a condition attached to the latest permission will protect the council’s interests by preventing any development from taking place until the section 106 obligation is finally completed.
Committee member Harry Landless summed up their feeling of his colleagues by describing the arrangement as a “technicality” which he was happy to approve.
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