People power helps shelve controversial Ribble Valley planning application appeal
A landowner's appeal to build on a village field that has a long-held tradition as a Civil War battleground has been rejected by the Government's Planning Inspector.
Following a public appeal hearing the Government’s Planning Inspector Philip Lewis supported the view of planning chiefs at Ribble Valley Borough Council and rejected an appeal against its refusal of an application to build 50 houses on Hammond Ground, Read.
According to stories of the village, Hammond Ground contains the remains of soldiers who fought in the civil war.It is also said the field contains some mine shafts along with the remains of soldiers who fought in the Battle of Read Old Bridge in 1643. This was fought between the Royalist and the Parliamentarian forces. The Royalist force of 4,000 men, commanded by the Earl of Derby, had previously taken Whalley and the opposing army, which only had 400 men, was positioned near Read Old Bridge. As the Royalist forces approached the bridge they faced musket forces, causing them to retreat.
The controversial application had been strenuously opposed by borough councillors and the Hammond Ground Residents Group.
Coun. Richard Bennett, who represents Read and Simonstone on RVBC, said: “The views and voices of the people have prevailed and this shows that developers, no matter how deep their resources, cannot ride rough shod over the wishes of the local community.
“I told the applicant at the last planning committee hearing to fold up their tent and walk away, as we as a community do not want this development. They didn’t but now have been ordered to do so by the Planning Inspector.”
The leader of RVBC, Coun. Ken Hind added: “The council’s main objection was the effect on the countryside, on the parkland the setting of the village of Read and the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
“We were all deeply concerned that this important landscape was going to be lost forever to inappropriate development.
“The inspector reflected our views recognising it was a valued landscape with good scenic quality and that the setting of Read Hall and St John the Evangelist Church both listed buildings was affected.”
Coun. Hind continued: “We are delighted about this result. The Government have to realise that pressurising local authorities to build homes has to be tempered by the need for such homes in the location preferred by landowners and developers. Other local authorities in Lancashire are crying out for homes to be built in their towns where the infrastructure exists, but developers prefer to build on the green meadows of the Ribble Valley rather than the brown field sites of older industrial towns.
“As far as building homes is concerned, one size does not fit all, and governments of all persuasions must realise this fact. In the post Brexit era devolution of planning powers to local authorities should be a priority so local councillors can make strategic planning decisions and the agenda is not driven by house builders and land owners.
“We look to our MP Nigel Evans to bring these matters to the attention of ministers to consider the problems faced by local authorities like Ribble Valley Borough Council.”