Countryside clashes with Preston over £650,000 payment

Countryside Properties is facing a clash with Preston City Council over a £650,000 section 106 agreement.

The developer wants to defer the payment for a further 12 months but has already put it off for three years.

Now council officers say they are not willing to wait any longer than February 5 – according to their report to the city's planning committee.

The index-linked payment relates to Countryside's consent to build a supermarket and 600 flats at Queen St in the city.

The cash was to be used towards highway works, CCTV and a real-time bus information system.

Countryside became liable after making a technical start on site in January 2009 to prevent its permission expiring. In submissions to the council it says a further extension is legitimate because of the weak economy and the "absence of any programme" of highway works.

To complicate matters Sale-based Brookhouse is still seeking approval for a 75,000 sq ft retail outlet, seven shops and commercial units and 415 parking spaces on a site that overlaps Countryside's scheme. A final decision is due this month.

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.

However, Brookhouse has criticised Countryside's request, telling the council, "It is no part of planning policy at either local or national level that a section 106 obligation should not be complied with simply because the party burdened with that obligation cannot afford it".

The company added: "They simply wish to continue to enjoy the benefits which accrue to them from their permission whilst at the same time avoiding compliance with the planning obligations."

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