Pickles confirms Preston Tithebarn go-ahead

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has published the confirmation letter rubber-stamping the planning approval for Lend Lease's £700m retail-led scheme.

The long overdue and controversial project, opposed by rival towns Blackpool and Blackburn, was passed due to its "significant economic, environmental and regenerations benefits" despite the possibility of increased traffic congestion in central Preston, against national policy.

The Inspector's Report, endorsed by Pickles, includes lengthy discussion of the impact on Blackpool and Blackpool, where local authorities said retail spend would be unfairly damaged by the size of Tithebarn. The Inspector said: "…the Secretary of State agrees that the proposal…would provide significant benefits for Preston in terms of jobs, GVA and improving the public realm, but because of the relatively self contained character of the areas in Lancashire, there would not be significant wider benefits, or despite some job losses in Blackpool and Blackburn, any significant wider disbenefits."

In another section the report states "neither Blackpool nor Blackburn could accommodate the additional growth [proposed by Lend Lease at Tithebarn]." The inspector goes on that Regional Spatial Strategy and national planning policy statements set "no caps or thresholds on retail floor space" for town centres.

Rumours surfaced last week that Pickles was set to approve the 1.5m sq ft scheme.

The public inquiry into the proposals finished in June 2010. The scheme will be anchored by John Lewis and Marks & Spencer department stores along with further retail units, restaurants, a cinema, office space, 400 residential units and 2,700 car park spaces across a 36-acre site. The historic market buildings will be renovated and new public realm works.

Drivers Jonas Deloitte advises Preston City Council.

The full decision documents can be downloaded at the DCLG website here .

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If John Lewis and Lend Lease can make this happen this will change Preston forever

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