WORK to clear a site containing 60 dilapidated garages which had become a dumping ground for rubbish started this week to the relief of local residents.
The site off Henthorn Road was sold to Ribble Valley Homes by Ribble Valley Borough Council earlier this year. The social landlord will turn the garages into three four-bedroom and five two-bedroom rented houses to provide affordable houses for rent by local families.
However, due to red tape, the development of the site has taken longer than anticipated with residents in the meantime having to deal with an insecure site that has been used for fly tipping. To the alarm of local residents, one of the garages has also been used as a squat.
Householders living in Siddows Avenue and Seedall Avenue, whose properties back on to the site, have complained to both Ribble Valley Borough Council and Ribble Valley Homes about the state of the site.
And Mandy and Roger Wilson, of Siddows Avenue, have been compiling a photographic diary of the site in recent weeks.
“In today’s age, the discovery of evidence of a person possibly living in one of the garages, and the alarming fact that children knew and talked about it, but local adult parents and residents didn’t know, it’s all hard to take in, especially so with the news of the missing girl in Wales,” said Mr Wilson.
Residents have also had to deal with the constant worry of fires being started on the site as its garage roofs are made of the hazardous material asbestos. Dave McGrath, watch manager at Clitheroe Fire Station told the Clitheroe Advertiser that he had been liaising with Ribble Valley Homes about the matter.
“We attended a rubbish fire there and assessed the joining garages and due to the derelict state, the high fire load and the material on the roofs, it prompted me to speak to Ribble Valley Homes who are in the process of clearing the site,” said Mr McGrath.
Christine Grimshaw, managing director of Ribble Valley Homes, said: “I am the first to admit that this has gone on longer than anyone would have liked. The legals have been challenging and the situation for local residents is far from ideal, but the end is in sight and the new build will provide a much more pleasant backdrop.”
She added that Ribble Valley Homes hoped to sign completion on the site tomorrow (Friday) with the contractor who is doing the demolition work moving on to the site on Monday October 15th.
“Since Monday (October 1st) when we were also shown photos of the deterioration we have secured the site at its entrance with Harris fencing which would need to be unscrewed to gain access. This has made the site less accessible.”
She added that this week several skips would be delivered to site to remove the remainder of the rubbish.“The build should take eight months and is being carried out by HT Forrest from Longridge,” said Mrs Grimshaw.
A Ribble Valley Borough Council spokesman said the council had received a complaint and were satisfied with the measures being taken to deal with the matter.