Fulwood Harris Park Orphanage 768x624

PLANNING | Refusal in store for Harris Park proposal

Neil Tague

Eden Grove Investment Properties’ plan to convert listed buildings and introduce new houses at the historic Garstang Road site looks set to meet with disappointment at Preston’s planning committee next week.

Eden Grove is a company headed by local property developer Yousuf Bhailok, who bought the 15.3-acre Fulwood site in 2006 and sought to sell it through Cushman & Wakefield in 2018.

The site, opened as an orphanage in the 1880s, was bought by the then-Preston Polytechnic in 1985 and used for student accommodation; when the polytechnic became the University of Central Lancashire in 2000 it converted the site into Harris Knowledge Park.

The whole park is listed and classified as a Conservation Area, while a number of the houses and structures within it are listed individually.

Working with Cassidy + Ashton, which had previously secured listing building consent for works at a the location, Eden Grove has put forward a hybrid application.

The application broadly breaks down as seeking full consent for eight new houses in the eastern part of the site; along with nine apartments and three townhouses within Clayton Hall and the Harris Conference Centre; along with new dwellings across several converted listed buildings. Two, Beech House and Ashleigh House, are already used for residential, while Pond House and a garage are proposed for demolition.

Outline consent is sought for a further 58 homes of up to three storeys, along with a substation. In all, the scheme would result in 66 new build dwellings and 21 further homes.

Officers set out five reasons for refusal: that the proposal would introduce an unacceptable suburban development into the entirety of the Harris Children’s Home Conservation Area and grade two-listed historic park and garden, that on balance weight should be given to Historic England’s view that the site represents a “rare and intact” purpose-built and designed orphanage; that insufficient information has been provided as to why affordable housing can’t be provided for; loss of a playing pitch without mitigation; and failing to demonstrate safe access for all highway users.

Bad news may also await Story Homes at committee: officers recommend refusal for an outline application from Story for 125 homes on an open countryside site on land north of Jepps Lane in Barton. Officers said: “The proposed development would be contrary to the hierarchy of locations for focussing growth and investment at urban, brownfield and allocated sites, within key service centres and other defined places.

“It fails to accord with the management of growth and investment set out in Policy 1 of the Central Lancashire Core Strategy and consequently it would lead to the unplanned expansion of a rural village.” Preston has put great store in its city living strategy in recent years.

Approval is however recommended for plans by Preston Trampower, advised by PWA Planning, to create a demonstrator area for a proposed tram scheme – the project will see former railway sidings off Skeffington Road used for the construction of a platform, cabling, lighting columns and the extension of an existing cycle path, which currently terminates at the West View leisure centre.

Following the appointment of Eric Wright Civil Engineering in 2018, a funding search was launched to make the £25m scheme a reality.

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