Brookhouse pushes on with Preston retail scheme

The Brookhouse Group's plans for a retail scheme in Preston are set to be approved by the city council on December 5 even though it is still trying to thrash out a solution to its long-running dispute with Countryside Properties over a neighbouring site.

Sale-based Brookhouse is seeking full permission for the nine-acre site of the Queens Retail Park and adjacent land on Queen Street.

Its plans include a 75,000 sq ft retail outlet, seven shops and commercial units and 415 parking spaces.

Countryside already has permission for a supermarket and flats on a neighbouring site that overlaps Brookhouse's scheme and sits between it and the town centre.

Both parties have previously gone to the High Court over each other's proposals but they have been working together in the hope of resolving their differences.

Nonetheless Brookhouse has pushed ahead with its application. According to council documents Countryside has suspended legal action pending the decision by Preston councillors who have been advised to approve by planning officers.

Countryside argues that Brookhouse's plan does not integrate with the city centre and, "reinforces the detached nature of the existing retail park".

It adds: "The proposals do not constitute sustainable development which could bring growth to the city centre. On the contrary, they would reinforce the separateness of the out of centre retail park."

In their report officers acknowledge Brookhouse's scheme goes against the city's development plan because it does not link directly into the town centre.

But "on balance" they concluded that the regeneration benefits of the scheme outweighed, "the harm caused through the absence of a safe, secure and direct pedestrian link to Church Street".

No one from Brookhouse, or Countryside's agent Steven Abbott, could be reached for comment.

* An application for 200 homes, a fitness centre and 10,000 sq ft of offices at Longridge is also set for approval at the meeting. The scheme has been put forward by Fox Land & Property, part of the Congleton-based group Gladman.

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