Developer hopes end is in sight for Preston planning impasse

Illustration of scheme's public square

Liverpool-based developer, BXB Cottam Properties (BXB), has welcomed “a major step forward” in a planning wrangle which has held up delivery of Cottam district centre in north west Preston.

Preston City Council has used its financial discretion to remove the planning condition imposed by Lancashire County Council which sought additional monies outside of the scheme’s agreed planning contributions and community infrastructure levy payments.

All that remains now for the scheme to go ahead is for Lancashire County Council to agree the methodology and cost for valuing a small strip of land that will facilitate a new entrance to the site from Tom Benson Way. BXB will then purchase the plot and development can commence.

Aldi is signed up as anchor tenant for the scheme, which will also provide retail, community, health and other services to support the area’s rapidly expanding population.

The project, on the site of the former Cottam Brickworks, was granted planning permission in March 2021, having enjoyed overwhelming support from local people during the application’s public consultation period.

BXB director, Gary Goodman, said: “Preston Council has demonstrated that it respects the wishes of the local community, welcomes investment and prioritises brownfield land.

“It has sensibly dealt with an unjustified financial impediment imposed by Lancashire County Council and I am grateful to it for its support.

“We’ve been trying for six years to agree with the county council a methodology for the valuation of the final strip of land, which is simply unprecedented.

“Our status as a neighbour makes us a ‘special purchaser’, meaning that the county council can’t sell to anyone else and I am hoping that with this latest development they no longer feel the need to impede what is a popular scheme granted permission through the democratic process. I’m expecting them to open talks shortly about the land sale.”

More than 12,000 homes have recently been built in Cottam and the district centre is seen as critical to reducing drive time for local shopping and service needs.

An Aldi spokesperson said: “We’re pleased that it appears that a solution has been found to allow the development to go ahead for the local community. We’re excited to move forward with our plans to build a brand new Aldi store for Cottam, whilst also delivering up to 40 new jobs in the area.”

Preston City Council has agreed to use a portion of BXB’s £1m Community Infrastructure Levy payment to fund the internal works at the neighbouring waste transfer station requested by Lancashire County Council. This removes the financial barrier to the scheme’s viability and will make possible a number of other payments and benefits, including:

  • £650,000 for S278 works, which is a payment towards road and pedestrian improvements
  • £45,000 for a toucan crossing
  • £60,000 for traffic calming works on Cottam Hall Avenue
  • S106 contributions of c. £250,000, which is a fee for granting planning permission
  • Five per cent contributions to affordable housing
  • £26m construction investment

In addition, the development is forecast to generate:

  • 170 full time jobs
  • A further 271 construction jobs
  • A predicted economic output of £41.7m a year
  • An increase in council tax revenue of £150,000 per annum

Mr Goodman added: “We are looking forward to a productive discussion with the county council about the land valuation and when that is concluded we’ll be able to update the public on when the scheme can commence.”

Nexus Planning is acting as planning advisors to BXB. Irwin Mitchell is providing legal counsel.

Lancashire County Council has been contacted for comment.

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