Residents have slammed a decision by a government planning inspector to allow a developer to build more than 500 new homes in Barrow.
Members of Barrow Community Action Group have called the decision a “tragedy”, saying it will result in Barrow, Wiswell and Whalley becoming part of an “urban sprawl”.
Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans, who has supported the group’s fight, has also said he is appalled by the decision and has written to Communities and Local Government Secretary Mr Eric Pickles.
He added: “I simply cannot understand how anyone can take the decision to allow the building of 504 homes in a village the size of Barrow. I will continue to try to impress upon the Secretary of State and his Ministers that rural communities are being decimated by decisions like this.”
Ribble Valley Borough Council leader Coun. Stuart Hirst told the Advertiser and Times he was “hugely disappointed” at the inspector’s findings and would object but added: “It is unlikely any effective challenge can be made to the inspector’s decision, but the council’s planning and development committee will discuss the decision and consider the implications in detail.”
Developer Barrow Lands Company Ltd had appealed after Ribble Valley Borough Council’s failure to decide on the application within the prescribed timescale. A public inquiry was held in June and, following this, the inspector recommended the plans be approved.
A decision letter said the Communities Secretary agreed with the inspector’s conclusion that the council’s lack of a five-year housing land supply weighed “significantly in favour” of the development.
A spokeswoman for BCAG, which formed in 2011 to fight plans by Barrow Lands Company Ltd to develop the site, said: “It is just devastating. We are not against development and are in no way ‘NIMBYs’. We’ve had development on brown field sites, but a development of over 500 houses on green fields will just join up all the way and form an urban sprawl.”
She said the appropriate infrastructure was not in place to cope with so many new homes, and blamed the current political climate and the Government’s eagerness to build more new homes as well as the lack of a Core Strategy for the borough for the decision.
Ribble Valley Borough Council has also been criticised, with a Barrow resident and BCAG member starting a petition calling for the removal of the council’s head of planning services and head of regeneration and housing.
David Birtwhistle, of Ash Close, said he had y lost confidence in the council. “If you look at every large scale application defended by Ribble Valley council, they have lost them all,” he said.
“The only one that was won was defended by residents at Waddow View after the council had backed out, saying it was unwinnable.
“We need a change of management fast before our beautiful landscape resembles Beirut and our livestock is replaced with concrete cows.”
There’s more on this story in this week’s Clitheroe Advertiser & Times.