New homes threat to Ribble Valley: special report

As the public examination into the Ribble Valley borough Core Strategy concluded on Tuesday this week, the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times took a drive around the Valley to see how development is changing the face of the borough.

Formally agreed by Ribble Valley Borough Council, the Core Strategy addresses how many new houses are needed in the area up until 2028 and where they could be built.

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Intended to address the future demands of the area’s demographic change, economic growth and affordable housing, it reflects a perceived requirement of 5,000 new houses, some of which are already built or are in the process of being developed.

Subject to a six-week consultation at the end of 2013, the strategy underwent the public examination overseen by Simon Berkeley, from the Government’s planning inspectorate.

And as the examination drew to a conclusion earlier this week, Clitheroe Advertiser and Times reporter Julie Magee spoke to two leading borough councillors about how they think development will affect the Ribble Valley.

In Whalley, five sites have already been approved for housing. Two of the largest are for 260 new homes on the Lawsonsteads site following an application by the Commercial Estates Group (CEG). There are also plans by David Wilson Homes (Barratts) for 137 properties on land off Mitton Road which is overlooked by the arches of the village’s iconic Whalley Viaduct. The Planning Inspectorate approved this latter application after the plans were refused by members of Ribble Valley Borough Council’s planning committee.

Speaking at a third site for which planning permission has been secured to build 80 new homes on land owned by the Co-op off Hayhurst Road in Whalley Coun. Joyce Holgate MBE, who is one of the Whalley borough councillors, said she believed the village had had “its fair share of houses”.

She added that it was feared the ongoing development will ultimately mean Whalley loses its villlage identity.

Plans for the Co-op land prompted the formation of local action group Save Whalley Village. Its vice chairman Mike Harper made the group’s objections to the Core Strategy clear during the recent public examination.

As well as the five sites for which planning permission has already been granted for almost 640 new homes in Whalley, a further two applications have been made for a further 550 plus new homes in Barrow and Whalley.

Five other potential housing sites have also been identified in the Whalley area in the borough council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA).

Meanwhile, in Clitheroe residents are waiting to hear the Planning Inspectorate’s view on an application to build 345 homes on land off Waddow View. The initial application was rejected by Ribble Valley Borough Council in February 2013, but this decision was subsequently appealed in August last year with a decision expected early next month.

On a visit to the site, Coun. Ian Brown, borough councillor for Clitheroe’s Salthill ward, described the loss of the green open fields to this development as “tragic”. He added it was becoming increasingly difficult to find reasons to turn planning applications down.

This couldn’t have been more evident than when, just last month, the largest planning application in the history of the Ribble Valley was given the go-ahead despite severe local opposition.

The outline application, which means for permission in principle, submitted by the Trustees of the Standen Estate to build 1,040 new homes, was approved by borough councillors in December. An alternative to these plans was put forward at the eleventh hour by the Strategic Land Group (SLG) which promised to deliver 700 new homes off Henthorn Road plus a new link road from Whalley Road to Henthorn Road.

At the bottom of Henthorn Road, work to build up to 270 new homes and a GP surgery, has already started. The application by Gladman Developments Ltd, will see Taylor Wimpey and Barratt Homes build a development called Ribble Meadows. The plans were given the green light in March after a Government planning inspector overruled Ribble Valley Borough Council’s refusal of the scheme.

Opposite this site, an application by previously mentioned SLG for outline planning permission to build 140 homes has been granted.

As well as these larger plans, smaller applications for housing are being submitted all the time to Ribble Valley Borough Council.