Lancashire’s current hot spots for new residential development are the Ribble Valley and Preston.
Ribble Valley’s popularity is well documented and it continues to deliver quality schemes which remain popular. This is evidenced by David Wilson’s scheme at Monks Cross, Whalley, a proportion of which was sold off plan prior to completion. Preston, whilst slightly behind in completions, is catching up quickly with improvements in infrastructure particularly to the north with unprecedented levels of new build. South Ribble and Pendle continue to be popular destinations and I expect this to continue over the next few years.
As to future hot spots, Blackburn is making progress with, over the last few years, a number of developers commencing innovative and interesting schemes such as Wayne Hemingway’s Green Hills delivered by Kingswood Homes with emphasis on community with village greens. Activity in Blackburn in the future is likely to be centred on the north side of the borough where Wainhomes will shortly commence their scheme and Persimmon seek to capitalise on their successful build-out at Wilpshire.
The difficulty with brownfield sites is that there are plenty of them and they are generally in or on the edge of urban areas which naturally fall second to greenfield sites on the edge of boroughs. Brownfield sites often abut employment uses and/or lower value housing stock. They do, however, present an opportunity to solve the affordable question that is challenging the market. The government continues to press home the importance of affordable new build but does little to incentivise the delivery of these sites. They often have infrastructure or ground condition issues which prevent them from being delivered without assistance and whilst some areas are tackling this, such as Blackburn with Darwen, it is still an issue with the mainstream private sector housebuilders. One solution would be for local authorities to go back into the building game as they historically did, but delivery requires expertise which financially challenged authorities do not have at their disposal.