Whalley campaigners launch fighting fund to oppose homes

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BATTLING Whalley villagers have launched a fighting fund to block plans for a controversial new development.

As reported in last week’s Advertiser and Times, developer Commercial Estates Group has submitted an outline planning application to build 300 new homes, a primary school and a care home on the 14.6 hectare site known as Lawsonsteads, to the east of Clitheroe Road, Whalley.

However, angry residents in Whalley claim it would be massive over-development and ruin their picturesque village, turning it into an housing estate.

Speaking on behalf of the Save Whalley Village campaigners, Dr Mike Harper said: “It seems CEG have completely ignored the villagers’ opinions. Almost 90% of respondents to their exhibition declared themselves against development of the site. Building 300 houses in the centre of Whalley is totally unacceptable, especially on such a prominent site. What makes it worse is that this land is classed as open countryside and therefore should be protected from development.”

He added: “The fighting fund will be used to pay for independent professional advice on what the group claims are ‘gaping holes’ in the case put forward by CEG.

“Especially with such a large application, Ribble Valley Borough Council does not have the resources or expertise to investigate all aspects of the proposal. It relies on the developer to provide the evidence, or similarly overworked public servants at County Hall. We intend to make sure they get a more balanced view.”

“People have already donated some money during our campaign against the Co-op. Now we will be asking all our members and anyone who cares about protecting Whalley’s heritage, to give generously so that we have the best chance of defeating CEG with hard evidence.”

Similar concerns were expressed by Whalley councillors Joyce Holgate and Terry Hill, who said: “As members of the borough council’s Planning and Development Committee, we both have to keep an open mind on any planning applications to avoid being prevented from voting at the committee stage. However, we share the serious concerns of Whalley residents about the CEG proposals to develop the Lawsonsteads land and we will rigorously examine and challenge all the detailed proposals contained within this application, including the statements CEG are including as justification.

“We will also listen to, take on board and respond to the issues and concerns raised by our residents, including the organised groups, to ensure all the arguments are fully and properly presented and that our unique Whalley village heritage is protected and maintained.”

Anyone wishing to support the fighting fund can e-mail info@safewhalleyvillage.org.uk or write to the membership secretary, Save Whalley Village, 1 Cornmill Mews, Whalley BB7 9ST.

l Residents have until Thursday, March 10th, to submit objections to Ribble Valley Borough Council’s planning department.