Let’s have a debate over housing issues

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How strange Coun, Hill sought to justify planning inadequacies on the same week hundreds of extra houses were dumped in Barrow.

That application received the green light because RVBC has no adopted Core Strategy and the current housing policy is out of date. To most residents of the borough, especially those in Barrow, that is incompetent. So too is the failure to have our Core Strategy adopted after six years and two attempts.

Coun. Hill informs us RVBC are doing it by the book. Which book might that be? Certainly not the same one the inspector is reading!

The Barrow decision is another source of acute embarrassment for RVBC. They failed to deal with the application on time, forgot to include Network Rail as a statutory consultee and produced a totally inept display at the appeal. All this resulted in 504 more houses for the village and a huge expenses claim from the developer, funded by the local taxpayer.

Instead of launching a personal tirade, why did Coun. Hill not address important issues regarding the destruction of our borough? He did not provide an answer for the costs incurred to produce a non-adopted Core Strategy and could not explain why genuine consultation has never taken place with residents.

He chose, instead, to trot out the same stereotypical message that “statutory public consultation” is compulsory. Of course it is and it has always taken place. What a shame statutory listening has never been a requirement. RVBC want to increase the Core Strategy housing total to 5,600 and will “consult” for six weeks. Residents will say they don’t want any extra houses but RVBC will go ahead with the increase. So what is the point of asking – could it be a box requires ticking?

Residents are angry, disillusioned, and disappointed with the performance of RVBC planning dept. The comments I made in my previous As I See It column were greatly watered down compared to the mood of Clitheroe, Whalley and Barrow residents as highlighted by this paper’s “bulging post bag” on the subject.

There have been marches, demonstrations, a petition to remove council officials and numerous other petitions attracting thousands of signatures. Does that sound like residents are informed and understand what is happening to their community? Does it sound like the council is listening?

I am surprised at the tone of Coun. Hill’s response which implies planning decisions should never be questioned. He would do well to remember council employees and councillors are paid by local residents and answerable to the community. If we are continually kept in the dark and let down by RVBC planning we will continue to seek answers, no matter what the chairman of planning thinks.

In order that residents can be more informed on local planning issues, I invite Coun. Hill (once again) to debate this subject, at a venue of his choice. After all if meaningful “public consultation” had taken place previously, this misunderstanding would not have occurred!