Housing consultation? No, a box-ticking exercise

FLAGS EYE VIEW: View of Clitheroe from the top of Clitheroe Castle.'Photo Ben Parsons
FLAGS EYE VIEW: View of Clitheroe from the top of Clitheroe Castle.'Photo Ben Parsons
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Yet another period of consultation! Or is it just a box ticking exercise? Of course it is – just examine previous attempts at consultation conducted by RVBC.

I am referring to the second Core Strategy consultation, which ends on September 20th. The first document attracted hundreds of objections from Ribble Valley residents. These were totally ignored by RVBC prior to the first Core Strategy being rejected by a government inspector. Perhaps listening to the public is not a bad idea after all!

Now, after thousands of pounds have been spent on further specialist reports, we are asked to forward our views again! Let’s be clear about one thing, RVBC are not asking our opinion in order that they might change anything. They have already made up their minds and are asking you because they are required to.

Residents objected to the original Core Strategy because they did not consider our infrastructure would accommodate another 4,000 houses, 9,600 people and 6,000 cars.

So why would anyone think a plan containing 5,000 houses, 12,000 people and 7,500 cars solves the problem? And whose problem are we trying to solve?

Regular reviews over the next 15 years means 5,000 new homes is just the starting point – it will increase.

The first Core Strategy provided enough land to build 10,000 new properties. This revised planning document has increased that and includes enough land to build more than 14,500 new homes in the Ribble Valley by 2028.

Clitheroe Residents Action Group collected more than 2,000 signatures opposing the plan to build 1,700 new houses in the town. This Core Strategy sees RVBC increase that figure to 2,065, with a potential increase to over 6,000 by 2028 a real possibility.

The following are proposed Clitheroe sites and property totals contained in the revised plan: Standen Estates 1,940; land between Waddington Road and Low Moor 1,860; Hawthorne Farm 548; areas along Pendle Road 456; Henthorn Road 343; Chatburn Road 140; plus other smaller sites.

These increases in the new document are best described as a slap in the face to those who objected 12 months ago. It appears our council’s consultation process involves increasing anything the public want to decrease.

CRAG are not encouraging residents to waste their time on this consultation fiasco. It will not change anything, except possibly push the figures up again!

Instead, Ribble Valley residents might be better served turning out to greet Planning Minister Nick Boles when he arrives for a meeting in Clitheroe on September 25th. He is one of the main architects of the situation we find ourselves in and is here for discussions with RVBC and local housing action groups.

Quite what this meeting is expected to achieve is anyone’s guess as Nick Boles is a staunch advocate of flooding rural towns and villages with more housing!

For further information, contact me on 07730 411556 or email: srush@tiscali.co.uk

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