Bid to build 300 new homes in Whalley rejected

campaigners are celebrating after an application to build up to 300 new homes in Whalley was thrown out by councillors.

Friday, 20th January 2012, 12:03 pm

The controversial application was discussed by members of Ribble Valley Borough Council’s planning committee.

Recommended for refusal by the council’s planning officers, the application for outline planning permission submitted by Commercial Estates Group was for a mixed development of homes, a nursing home and primary school on land at Lawsonsteads Farm, to the east of Clitheroe Road, Whalley.

Of those 300 homes, 30% would be categorised as “affordable”, while the nursing home would cater for 50 residents and a new one-form entry primary school would have places for 210 pupils, CEG told planners.

The application attracted staunch objections from the start with both Whalley and Wiswell parish councils making their opposition clear in correspondence with the council.

And this week, local action group Save Whalley Village congratulated members of the council’s planning and development committee for backing officers’ recommendation to refuse the plans.

Speaking on behalf of the action group, Mike Harper said: “We are obviously delighted the planning committee has followed the advice from council officers and refused this application. The people of Whalley have been against this from the very start.

“We are also glad the council has upheld the principle that development on Lawsonsteads would be detrimental to the village and unnecessarily destroy open countryside. It is to be hoped CEG will heed the opinion of local residents, planners and now councillors, and drop its misguided attempt to build on this site.”

As well as objections from local parish councils, 232 letters of protest were received about the plans, with further objections made by the Lancashire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Despite the opposition, a spokesman for developers CEG told the Advertiser and Times it was still committed to developing the site.

“We are disappointed by the council’s decision to refuse our planning application,” said Steve McBurney from CEG.

“Our proposal tried to strike the right balance between respecting Whalley’s historic character and avoiding over-development, but still providing enough housing to address the shortage and deliver major new infrastructure including a new primary school.

“Had it been approved, our proposal would also have delivered a new through road between Clitheroe Road and the A671, taking traffic away from the centre of Whalley and improving the current situation.

“The proposed long-stay public car park on the site would have addressed current parking problems along King Street and up to 90 new affordable homes would have been provided for local people and families who cannot afford open market prices and rents.

“There is a compelling need for new housing in the Ribble Valley and, as one of the main settlements in the borough, Whalley is well placed to help meet this need. We are therefore still committed to developing this site and are currently reviewing our options.”