Clitheroe homes plan for over 55s refused

There were not enough affordable homes included in this application.
There were not enough affordable homes included in this application.
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Controversial plans to build 34 bungalows in Clitheroe for the over 55s have been refused.

A petition signed by 90 people and 16 letters of objection were received by Ribble Valley Borough Council’s planning department regarding the application to demolish an existing house at 30 Peel Park Avenue and build the bungalows.

Clitheroe Town Councillors also strongly objected to the proposals on the grounds that the application would be “over intensification” of the site, which is owned by the Trustees of Clitheroe Royal Grammar School Foundation, and that there is poor access to it.

The applicant said that four of the 34 bungalows, which would be a mix of one, two and three bedroomed, would be “affordable bungalows” and that vehicle access to the development would be provided via a new access point off Peel Park Avenue facilitated by the demolition of number 30 Peel Park Avenue.

An off site sport and recreation contribution of £14,000 and an ecology contribution was also promised by the applicant.

This package offered by the applicant was considered to be the maximum/best that was financially viable for this particular scheme.

However, RVBC’s own Housing Strategy Officer did not support the plans as it under delivered in relation to affordable housing providing only 10 rather than the minimum 20% affordable housing.

During a meeting of RVBC’s planning and development committee, Littlemoor ward councillor, Coun. Sue Knox, proposed that the application was refused on the grounds of affordable housing.

Speaking after the meeting, she said: “I am disappointed that CRGS Foundation, as the local landowner, tried to push through an application that local residents don’t want.

"However, when we refuse things, we cannot do so based on emotion, only under planning law. They only wanted to provide a desultory 10% of the homes on the site as affordable; at a time when affordable accommodation is at a premium. It’s against Ribble Valley Council Core Strategy that says it should be 30%, unless a viability appraisal says it should be 20%, surely the trustees of the Foundation as local people would insist on meeting that.

“At the moment the council has a five year land supply, so additional developments that have no added benefits such as affordable, are neither wanted or needed.”

A spokesman for the trustees of CRGS Foundation, a registered charity, said: “Following two generations of a tenancy on the site at Goosebutts, the local farmer retired recently and the trustees of the Foundation were advised by RVBC that the site could be developed for bungalows with occupation by the over 55s, an identified need in the Ribble Valley.

“Taking into consideration their legal obligation to maximise the assets of the charity for the benefit of pupils at the school, the local need for more bungalows, and the fact that the land is no longer ideal for agricultural use, surrounded as it is by residential development, the trustees granted Applethwaite Homes an option to purchase the site to achieve a planning consent for development of bungalows. The detail of the planning application and the planning definition of ‘affordable housing’ were both dealt with at length by the developer and RVBC’s officers.”

He added: “The trustees are fully aware of the continuing controversy regarding residential development in Clitheroe, ‘affordable’ or otherwise, and the effect on the town’s infrastructure, but the councillors are responsible for these issues. Students, the over-55s and first-time buyers (who would have benefited from others’ down sizing) will now be the ones to suffer as a result of this ‘vote-winning’ decision.”