Work has finally started on the site of four new blocks of flats in Preston city centre – just days before permission for the development would have lapsed.Advertisement
Preston City Council’s planning committee gave the green light to the “PR1” scheme in November 2020, permitting the towers – ranging between seven and 16 storeys in height – to be built on the surface-level car park at the junction of Avenham Street and Syke Street.
The approval was subject to a standard condition stipulating that the development must get underway within three years – but the plot today remains a functioning car park.
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However, part of the facility has now been cordoned off and a small number of slates removed from the roof of a small brick building on the site – steps that, for planning purposes at least, amount to work having started.
It follows a decision by town hall planning officers just last week to approve a so-called “phasing strategy” for the project, submission of which was another of the conditions attached to the original permission.
That required the firm behind the plans – listed in 2020 as Blackburn-based “Pillars PR1 Ltd.”, but now identified in the latest application as London-registered “PR1 Village Ltd.” – to set out its site clearance and demolition plans for each phase of the development before the work in question began.
Papers lodged with the city council reveal that the site preparation will take place in two phases – the first being the demolition of the brick building that is described as a “ticket office” and the second incorporating all of the other necessary clearance. There is no indication as to when building work will begin, nor any expected completion date for the 294 apartments.
Under the plans approved three years ago – for what was then estimated to have been a £50m scheme – the four apartment blocks will be formed in an ‘N’ shape around a landscaped courtyard area, reserved for residents. Many of the flats – a mix of one and two-bedroomed homes – will have balconies, while a large, stepped terrace will also feature on the side of the development fronting Syke Street and Avenham Lane.
Two basement car parks will be installed – with almost the same capacity as the current 217-space parking facility on the site – and will be open both to occupants to purchase a space and also to the general public.
Last week, the city council also approved a separate change to the 2020 planning permission, which alters the point by which other conditions – relating to the submission and approval of details such as drainage for the project – have to be fulfilled. Rather than being required before commencement of any work, they will now be needed only before excavation or any above ground activity other than demolition.
A report by planning officers states that the non-material amendments will ensure that the information is still provided in “a timely manner”, while also allowing development to “lawfully commence” prior to the expiry of the original planning permission on 6th November.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service attempted to contact PR1 Village Ltd. for comment.
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