Yet another new housing development application has been submitted to test the resolve of our Ribble Valley councillors on the planning committee.
This time CEG want to build 300 houses on the Lawsonstead site in Whalley. Yes ... 300.
Now if an 80-house application failed on the grounds of inadequate infrastructure, how do CEG expect an application for 300 to be passed? Wait, CEG include the building of a new school in their plans. No they don’t!
They will leave land available for someone else to build a school. A fact confirmed to me by the developer’s spokesman, Mr Steve McBurney, at the recent CEG presentation.
Where have we heard this old chestnut? At Calderstones Park the developers said they would donate land for the building of a new school. More new houses have just been built on that plot. Why? Because there is no money available to build new schools and, even if there was, who will pay the teachers, wages?
Lancashire County Council hold the education purse strings and we have all seen recently that they are making £179m. in cuts. Are we seriously to believe they will suddenly fall over a treasure chest of money to facilitate a new school in Whalley?
We should congratulate the 10 councillors who bucked the trend and opposed Chairman Sherras and his officers on the previous Whalley and Billington applications. The officers had recommended the acceptance of both schemes, mainly because of so-called “expert reports”.
One of these concerns education and states that one in three houses will have a child of primary school age while one in four houses will have a child requiring secondary education.
That is utter nonsense. Some 16 years ago I moved to a new estate and, on a seven-house cul-de-sac, there were eight children of primary school age. These experts are asking me to believe the next 24 houses were child free. They weren’t.
New residents from outside the area will be attracted to CEG-type developments for the quality of our schools in the Ribble Valley. These are already bursting at the seams and are not capable of accommodating hundreds of new pupils. Neither are the roads capable of holding hundreds of extra cars. Has anyone seen the state of Ribble Valley roads? More holes than a colander.
CEG, and developers like them, are only interested in one thing – profits. Once they have left an area severely overcrowded they are not interested in the problems they leave behind. If this hairbrained scheme ever sees the light of day, it should be with a proviso that CEG build a new school and agree full teacher staffing levels with LCC before they build any of the 300 houses.
But why does Whalley need 300 new houses when the Ribble Valley’s own Housing Waiting List in November 2010 showed 155 people wanted houses in the area. That is 155 people, not 155 houses. With all the new development down the road in Barrow and houses built on land left for a school at Calderstones, surely that need has been met.
So I ask the question again... who are these new houses really for?
By Steve Rush, East Lancashire chairman of the UK Independence Party