Site visit – Residents argue why Preston fields are unsuitable for Housing Allocation
|March 5, 2013||Filled under Campaigns, Community, Consultation, Debate, Parish Councils, Preston|
IT’S VERY PRETTY to the North of Preston; the gentle undulating green fields slope down to pools of standing water, the distinctive sound of curlews calling pierces the early-spring air, and it’s very peaceful and pleasant – if a bit muddy! The area is referred to as PRES 5, 7 and 11 in the East Riding Council’s Draft Local Plan, but one resident on a site visit yesterday (4th March 2013) called it “Preston’s Beverley Westwood”, evoking picturesque comparisons with that town’s marvellous green open space.
The site visit to the Manor Road fields by East Riding Planning Officer Mr Derek Ellis was taking place at the request of the Preston Parish Council who had expressed concerns that the land was wholly unsuitable as a development site for the building of up to 77 houses as suggested in the Draft Local Plan. 10 local residents and parish councillors met with Mr Ellis and showed him the land under dispute.
Mr Ellis explained that the current draft of the local plan had been 10 years in preparation and sites for new housing had to found and those sites may not necessarily be the best, but rather the “least-worst” of the limited sites available. As a designated Primary Village then suitable sites for development needed to be identified in Preston parish. Moira Gittins a local resident challenged whether the village of Preston was indeed a primary village when the nearest qualifying services such as a petrol station and supermarket were actually in Preston South two miles away. Preston is somewhat unique in that it has a second settlement South-West of the main village known as Preston South. It was later suggested by Parish Councillors that the two communities should be dealt with separately for the purposes of the current consultation.
Moira described how part of the site is the scene of anthrax contamination due to infected animals being buried there. Another resident told Mr Ellis that the local roads are already far too busy and not suitable to take added traffic pressure.
Where the pools of water are, is believed to mark the site of the old medieval village of Preston, but the pools form as a result of a natural soak-away which drains water away from the present village. It is this natural drainage that may have prompted the migration of the medieval villagers to higher ground. If the site is developed, it is argued, then new flooding problems would be caused.
Resident Lyn Gilby said that the area regularly sees curlews which are a protected species – and, as if on cue, a flock of about 15 of the birds flew in and settled further along the field.
Mr Ellis praised the Parish Councillors and residents for their understanding of the issues associated with the Draft Local Plan. He assured: “Every comment and concern will be noted and where objections are raised and not upheld then the council would respond clearly with their reasons why.”
Later at a special Parish Council meeting it was agreed to formulate a letter of response, including some of the issues raised at the site visit, which would represent the parish objections to the East Riding Council’s local plan housing allocations.
(Ongoing issue – many thanks to the residents who spoke to me and whose knowledge and expertise is reflected above. Thank you to Cllr Gilby for providing the ‘sunken hollow’ photograph – Editor)