Chorley feels the pressure on ever-increasing targets for housing

Leader of Chorley Council, councillor Alistair Bradley
Leader of Chorley Council, councillor Alistair Bradley
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Housebuilding targets in Chorley could see a hike, putting yet more pressure on the area’s already struggling infrastructure.

It comes as a Government consultation could mean the borough might be slapped with the highest housing target to hit in Lancashire.

Chorley Council is the only district in the county to consistently hit its government target for new homes built each year and the authority now fears it may have to provide even more housing, putting intolerable pressure on local services.

Now leader of Chorley Council, councillor Alistair Bradley, is urging the Government to take the authority’s views on board amid fears that Chorley could become a victim of its own success.

The plea comes after the authority successfully defended an appeal against its decision to refuse 165 homes on Pear Tree Lane, in Euxton, much to the relief of residents living nearby.

Coun Bradley said: “When we speak to residents one of the biggest concerns they have is the number of new homes being built in Chorley and the pressure it is putting on things such as schools, doctors surgeries and the roads.

“We’ve been consistently hitting our house building targets and it’s time some of the other boroughs in Lancashire took some of the burden.

“The latest housing consultation to come from the Government does the exact opposite and is actually looking to drastically increase our numbers – not only will we have the highest target in the county we will also be the only local authority in Lancashire to see an increase in our target.

“Then we have other parts of the county, such as East Lancashire, which wants to encourage more development and their targets are going to remain low, it’s absolute madness.”

The government’s consultation ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places’ looks at accelerating housebuilding across the country and will see changes to housebuilding targets, which currently sees Chorley having to provide 417 new homes per year.

The authority has been able to maintain this pace of growth but is deeply concerned about future projections, which could see that rise to 634 new homes per year.

“What’s happening is we’ve got people looking at numbers on a sheet of paper in London and perversely thinking that those who have been able to build lots of houses so far are able to deliver yet more and it’s unfair to both us and others,” said coun Bradley.

“We don’t mind doing our bit but we need the infrastructure first, so new schools, more health centres etc. It’s like looking at those who have got the biggest balloon and asking them to blow it up a bit more - at some point it will pop.

“We successfully defended the planning appeal for Pear Tree Lane and my fear is if we have to build even more homes it will mean we will have to look at allocating more land in rural areas or even Green Belt land because we will struggle to provide the housing supply in our urban centres.

“It’s important that the government does what it is telling us and let local people decide where new homes should be built but my experience tells me they will say one thing and do another.”

Meanwhile, in Preston, housebuilding rates in the area have increased dramatically since the start of the city deal.

However coun Peter Moss, cabinet member for planning and regulation, at Preston City Council says that this in line with what the authority wants for Preston’s future.

The ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places’ consultation could see the city’s housing target increase by 282 each year.

Coun Moss said: “The housebuilding targets are minimum requirements, the aspirations in the city deal are to build more than the minimum, taking advantage of the demand in the area and economic growth.

“The key to the city deal is, in line with the local plan strategy, to provide sustainable development. It does this by putting in the necessary infrastructure such as roads, improved open spaces and parks, schools and providing local employment and training opportunities.”

For the authority in Preston housebuilding is part and parcel of growing the city in order to create a more vibrant centre and improve the economic opportunities to attract more residents.

Coun Moss said: “Improving the city centre is seen as key to making Preston a successful place where people will want to live, work and visit. Examples include the new Preston Markets, Bus Station, enhanced public realm such as Fishergate, Lancaster Road and Tithebarn Street, improvements to Winckley Square and the UCLan campus masterplan. The city living strategy has really taken off and there are a significant number of residential schemes coming forward in the city centre.

“Whilst the council is not currently proposing to build houses directly, it is using developers’ financial contributions to provide affordable housing by converting empty properties. The first scheme is planned to start this year investing £400,000. In addition, affordable housing is being built within private housing schemes, as required by the council through its planning policy.”