Lancaster haulage firm wins housing appeal

The former SJ Bargh site on Hornby Road, Caton.
The former SJ Bargh site on Hornby Road, Caton.

A Lancaster haulage firm has won its battle to overturn a council decision to stop them building 30 new houses near Caton.

S J Bargh appealed after Lancaster City Council turned down plans for a housing development at their former site on Hornby Road.

Anthony Finlayson Green, managing director of S J Bargh.

Anthony Finlayson Green, managing director of S J Bargh.

The council argued the development would cause “the loss of employment land within the rural area without it being demonstrated that the ongoing employment use of the site is no longer appropriate or viable”.

But a Government 
planning inspector disagreed and now S J Bargh will press ahead with plans to appoint a housing developer.

The 81-year-old company moved out of its Hornby Road base onto a bigger site on Caton Road in 2013.

The appeal came as Lancaster City Council tries to establish a plan to achieve housing targets of 12,000 new homes in the district over the next 20 years. The council has pinpointed several greenfield sites in the district for possible major development, including at Dolphinholme and Slyne-with-Hest, causing controversy with residents.

“Why would the council consider planning permission for greenfield sites when they could have a brownfield site like this one?” said Anthony Finlayson-Green, managing director of S J Bargh

“By moving to the new site we created 70 new jobs, which defeated the council’s argument.”

The 1.2 hectare site on Hornby Road is located within the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). But planning inspector Keith Manning said the proposal would not encroach into nearby undeveloped countryside.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the sense of community in Caton would be significantly undermined by housing of the scale,” said Mr Manning.

“The impact of re-development of the site on the AONB would be much reduced by comparison with an equivalent development on a greenfield site.

“I have no evidence that the appeal site would be attractive for substantial new build office space.By moving off the site it seems the company has improved its prospects for future prosperity.”

Coun Roger Sherlock, chairman of Lancaster City Council planning committee, said: “This was a very balanced application; on the one hand there was the potential to retain a valuable site for possible future employment uses, and this was set against the need to provide more housing in the district.

Additionally, national planning policy guards against major development within designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, such as the Forest of Bowland.

“The Planning Inspector’s report considers all of these arguments, and it concludes that the need to provide more housing in the district is a substantial matter that, coupled with the potential of enhancing the appearance of this site, outweighed all other considerations in this case.

“We welcome the clarity that the appeal decision brings.”