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Slight thaw in freeze on house building

HAND-tied planning chiefs are to be granted a little respite from the freeze on house building in Hyndburn.


HAND-tied planning chiefs are to be granted a little respite from the freeze on house building in Hyndburn.

The council imposed a block on planning applications after it was told to slash its annual house-build from 200 to 110 over the next five years under the Joint Lancashire Structure Plan. But members of the Planning Committee have now received a draft report outlining a range of exemptions to the policy.

Presented to the body last week, it suggests the following exemptions are no longer seen as additional housing:

Small conversions of existing buildings up to four additional units.

Conversions reverting to an original number of units.

Schemes already approved which don't exceed density guidelines.

Proposals that would secure the future of a listed or important building in a conservation area and homes for agricultural workers.

The report states: "While approvals under each of these categories would add to the housing supply or over-supply, none should have a hugely significant effect on numbers, other than the last category, which if applied too loosely would have the capability to undermine the entire policy."

This should be good news for people like Lorna and Russell King, who had an application to convert their former KBS catering business and flat on Park Road, Great Harwood, back to its original state of two houses turned down.

However, the Planning Committee's hands are still tied on granting permission for additional housing after it was revealed Hyndburn's number of outstanding permissions has risen from 633 to 908.

It is thought the increase is due to developments such as the Sefton Farm estate in Altham and the former Rists site at Pickup Street, Accrington.

A consultation has taken place to find out what other groups feel about the policy.

The document went out to 48 bodies including the Government Office North West, residents' associations and community groups.

A total of 18 replies were received which expressed support for the new rules.

Chief Planning Officer, Brendan Lyons, said: "This is not an exact science. The housing situation has got worse in terms of the last few months. It's hard to say how many houses are going to be built because developers have five years to commence building. For the next few years we are going to exceed this target so we will have to limit permissions we give out."

Planning Committee chairman, Councillor Doug Hayes, said: "This committee has had a few soul-searching decisions to make over the last few months, so we don't want this document to be shredded before we use it.

"The small conversion aspect says we should allow conversions of up to four units but what if someone wants five? I think it is a reasonable document to take to Cabinet."

Councillor Dave Parkins said: "Common sense has prevailed and I welcome this document." But Councillor June Butler complained it still left them playing a numbers game.


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