"Infrastructure first and homes second" - this is the plea from Clitheroe Coun. Sue Hind who is concerned about the increasing amount of houses being built in the rural borough.
Coun Hind, accompanied by Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans, met with housing minister, Mr Kit Malthouse MP, in the House of Commons to lobby for changes in the housing policy.
The Conservative councillor said: "Councillors throughout the country are concerned that local authorities are obliged by government to build houses as part of the policy of building 300,000 new homes a year to cater for an increased population.
"The problem for us in Clitheroe, as in other parts of the Ribble Valley, is that the infrastructure lags behind the building of homes which means that highway safety, GP and Social Services and other important resources are compromised to the detriment of residents already living here.
“As a council we ask for developers for contributions, but in my view, we need to adopt a more robust policy in relation to infrastructure which makes developers pay, attaching conditions requiring financial contributions for key services to every planning consent, and make sure it is collected and spent in the Ribble Valley in a timely manner.
“Developers with their huge financial resources play games with local authorities and try to manipulate the system to their advantage. I pressed the Minister to consider a policy of
'Infrastructure First and Homes Second'.
“I cited to Mr Malthouse the example of BDW Trading Ltd (Barratt and David Wilson Homes) which, having acquired planning permission to build up to 275 houses on Waddow View where the original application was accompanied by a comprehensive list of highway safety issues as demanded by Lancashire County Council highways in a 15-page letter written to Ribble Valley Borough Council in January, BDW is now wanting to build, sell and occupy 50 houses before the necessary traffic improvements are completed.
“We have sadly experienced the same problem with a roundabout being built on the A59 near the Standen development. If this had been undertaken before any houses were built it would have mitigated the enormous inconvenience for both Clitheroe residents and visitors experienced with six months of road closures and building site traffic.
“The Minister agreed to take away the concerns shared by councillors – probably countrywide – and look at our particular problems in Clitheroe as an example. He gave assurance that he will be writing to the Chief Executive of BDW Trading Ltd on our behalf.
“I shall be liaising with Nigel Evans MP to keep pressure on the government to review this policy.”