‘Do not let us down’ plea

Mowbreck Lane, Wesham
Mowbreck Lane, Wesham
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Members of a housing action group have raised fears Fylde Council could perform a u-turn and refuse to support them in a planning appeal.

Earlier this year Fylde Council blocked plans for a 264-home scheme in land off Mowbreck Lane in Wesham, saying it was inappropriate in scale, was visually unattractive and not sustainable.

But developer Metacre has now appealed the decision to the planning inspector, with members of the Wesham Action Group (WAG) concerned the council could refuse to back its original decision, as the council does not have a five year supply of housing – a figure which helps control the number of homes built in the borough.

They fearit could mean a three-day appeal, scheduled for January, will not be contested and allow the building of the homes. Nigel Bradley, WAG spokesman said: “We are not surprised at this situation, but we are saddened by the apathy that has been shown.

“The community has been ground down by a company whose sights are set in building a ring of new development around a town that still struggles to sell houses on developments that have been recently built.”

Last year Metacre was awarded more than £100,000 in legal fees from Fylde taxpayers after a planning inspector ruled in favour of a separate 100-home development in Mowbreck Lane.

An appeal inquiry ruled in Metacre’s favour after the council failed to offer evidence for the scheme being rejected.

Mr Bradley said he expects Fylde Council not to back up its original decision due to possible costs, saying it would be the second time the authority had “let us down” and vowed WAG would take on Metacre’s legal team themselves. Coun Trevor Fiddler, Fylde Council’s planning cabinet member, said he understood WAG’s concerns, but said the council was worried about another costly appeal and felt it would be difficult to defend the intial refusal.

He added: “Wesham, with its links, is considered a more sustainable site for housing.

“It would be extremely difficult to present any robust case to defend at an inquiry the council’s original decision.”

The housing appeal is expected to be considered by the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles MP in the coming months.

Metacre refused to comment on the appeal.