High Court rules in developer’s favour in South Ribble

Housebuilder Wainhomes has won a High Court appeal against the local authority’s decision to refuse an application for 100 homes in Whitestake, prompting a further inquiry to be undertaken. 

The ruling raises questions over whether South Ribble’s related decision to overturn consents for almost 1,000 homes in Preston earlier this year still stands firm, or whether it, too, needs to be revisited.  

South Ribble refused Wainhomes’ application for the Whitestake scheme on Chain House Lane last June, saying that the site was protected. 

The developer subsequently appealed but a Government planning inspector backed South Ribble’s decison and Wainhomes took the matter to the High Court.

As part of the first appeal, which the council won, the planning inspector reviewed South Ribble’s housing supply position, which included neighbouring areas including Preston and Chorley, and said that it was out of date. 

Under the Government’s standard planning methodology, South Ribble, Preston and Chorley could all demonstrate a five-year housing supply, the inspector concluded, reducing their immediate need for housing. 

Preston City Council subsequently overturned planning approvals on nine applications totalling almost 1,000 homes at a meeting in February, based on the policy shift recommended by the inspector. 

However, Wainhomes’ court victory has now cast doubt on the earlier appeals decisions, including the overturning of approvals in Preston, the final decision on which hinged on the outcome of Wainhomes’ appeal.  

South Ribble Council said it was “disappointed” with the High Court ruling, in a statement published yesterday. The decision will now go back to inquiry for examination by a different planning inspector.

Cllr Paul Foster, leader of South Ribble Council, said: “We’re absolutely confident in our position and believe that our decision to refuse the development proposal from Wainhomes for 100 houses on Chain House Lane was the right one. 

“We are ready and prepared to defend our decision and will do so now through the formal channels. 

“We want to make it absolutely clear that as a council we are pro-development – but only when done in the right way, and in a way that is of benefit to our residents and the wider South Ribble community.” 

Cllr Bill Evans, cabinet member for planning, regeneration and city deal at South Ribble Council, added: “It is important to note that the overturning of the decision of the planning inspectorate in this case was not on the basis of planning merits or policy, it was on the basis of the process taken by the planning inspector to reach the decision. 

“With this in mind, we are 100% confident in our position and I look forward to taking the next steps to ensure that we can once again defend our decision at a further public inquiry.” 

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