Councillor urges rethink on Ribble Valley homes plans

Coun. Ken Hind
Coun. Ken Hind

A SURVEY carried out by researchers for Nigel Evans MP and Ribble Valley Councillor Ken Hind reveals about 1,572 homes are currently for sale, rent or empty in the borough.

The survey was carried out between July 27th and August 2nd as a contribution to the public consultation on the development of the Ribble Valley Borough Council area up to 2028, which ends today.

All the major estate agents in the Ribble Valley and those in surrounding areas who sell properties in the borough were consulted. Its result may actually understate the number, as it did not include private sales, developers who sell direct to the public and smaller estate agents.

Despite this it showed 898 homes were for sale. There were 171 for rent in the private sector, making a total of 1,069. The rental figures may also be understated as they do not include housing associations or public sector bodies.

Ribble Valley Borough Council’s figures reveal there are 1,075 properties that are second homes or empty for various reasons. Reducing this figure by more than half, making allowances for second homes, those already on the market and other reasons, there are about 503 empty properties in the Ribble Valley.

This gives a total of 1,572 homes for sale, rent or empty in the Ribble Valley.

Coun. Ken Hind said: “Ribble Valley Borough Council, in the framework core strategy consultation, suggests building 161 houses a year up to 2028 – a total of 2987 over the period.

“The council’s figures, provided by Nathaniel Litchfield and Partners in their reports, could have been overtaken by changing events. The market survey shows there is at least the equivalent of half the new homes proposed to be created up to 2028 either for sale, rent or empty at present.

“This is despite the fact there has been a moratorium on new major house building projects since 2004.”

Coun. Hind added: “Lichfield’s figures and methodology should be questioned by the council and all respondents to the consultation. The consultants make the assumption the Ribble Valley will grow by at least 12% over the next 20 years as it has done so in the past with net immigration into the area. “

Coun. Hind suggested that up to now demand for housing in the Ribble Valley had been driven by people moving into the area, but latest figures suggest there were now more people moving out.

“If population growth has reversed, due to altered economic circumstances, there should be a root and branch consideration of the house building figures with a view to making serious reductions.”

Coun. Hind said housebuilding should therefore focus on the existing indigenous population, with the emphasis on providing homes for first time buyers, those on lower incomes and meeting the needs of the increasing elderly population.

Over half – 443 out of 828 – on the current housing waiting list were elderly people seeking sheltered accommodation.