A decision on the Pickering’s Farm development on 50 hectares of agricultural land was called in for determination by the housing secretary

The secretary of state for housing, Michael Gove, has granted planning permission for 1,100 homes originally refused by South Ribble Borough Council.

Permission for two applications for a residential mixed-use development on the Pickering’s Farm site in Lancashire was rejected by the council twice for reasons including the impact on “highways, green infrastructure, ecology, drainage, air quality and lack of infrastructure.”


Secretary of state for housing Michael Gove

Appeals against both refusals were made by developer Taylor Wimpey and Homes England, and these were recovered for determination by Gove in June 2022.

A letter sent yesterday from Felicity Buchan MP, parliamentary under secretary of state for housing and homelessness, on behalf of Gove, reveals he has greenlit the development. 

Gove’s letter states he has “not identified any material considerations which carry weight against the proposals,” and grants permission subject to conditions. 

“[Gove agrees] that the delivery of a total of some 1,100 homes in a mix of sizes is a significant benefit, to which he gives significant weight. He further agrees that the delivery of affordable housing would be a benefit carrying significant weight,” the letter says. 

Pickering’s Farm is located to the south of the Kingsfold residential area of Penwortham, about a kilometre away from Lostock Hall train station.

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This site is predominantly open agricultural land of more than 50 hectares in total. It was earmarked for development in the 1970s and it was allocated as a major development site within the South Ribble Borough Council’s local plan in 2015. 

The approved plan includes the provision of a two-form entry primary school, the creation of a new local centre and the provision of publicly accessible open space. 

The letter says applications for a partial award of costs have been made by Taylor Wimpey and Homes England against South Ribble Borough Council – a decision on which will be made in a separate letter. 

Last week Taylor Wimpey revealed it was on track to post operating profit of £470m this year, sharply down on the £923m in operating profit posted the previous year amid ”weak consumer confidence”.