Ribble Valley told to ‘look again’ at housing plans

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An inspector examining the Ribble Valley’s Core Strategy, the borough’s long-term planning blueprint for housing up until 2028, has asked the council to look again at seven issues.

Following the conclusion of the public hearings for and examination of Ribble Valley Borough Council’s Core Strategy in January, planning inspector Simon Berkeley has “reached the firm view further modifications are necessary for soundness” in addition to those previously discussed.

In a letter to the council’s head of regeneration and housing, Colin Hirst, the inspector raised points on housing levels, how houses were distributed, the treatment of villages and land allocation. He stated: “Overall, it seems to me the council has opted for a ‘hybrid’ option which has no clear or fully objective analysis to validate it.

“While there must be room for pragmatism in plan making, this cannot be at the expense of meeting objectively assessed needs, particularly in relation to housing ... the Government’s clear aim is ‘to boost significantly the supply of housing.’ In the context of this, the Core Strategy’s economic objectives and council’s own evidence of housing requirements, the ‘hybrid’ option falls short of meeting needs and is not a sound basis for the plan.”

As a result, Colin Hirst outlined a programme of work including to establish the sustainability criteria to be applied, an accessibility assessment for defined settlements, review the capacity for growth, identify key constraints such as Green belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, determine what needs to be allocated, to draft modifications, and give a sustainability appraisal.

In a statement to the Clitheroe Advertiser, borough council leader Stuart Hirst said: “Following the completion of the public hearing, the planning inspector has suggested a number of modifications to our Core Strategy, which he would like us to consider.

“We will respond fully within the agreed timescale in order that the strategy can move forward to completion.

“We anticipate that we will be in a position to approve and adopt the final Core Strategy by the summer.”