U-turn to allow 345 new homes in Clitheroe

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Protestors fighting large scale housing developments in and around Clitheroe have suffered another blow with the news Ribble Valley Borough Council cannot defeat plans for 345 new homes on the edge of town.

In a statement yesterday, the council announced legal experts have advised it has “no realistic chance” of successfully defending an appeal against its refusal to grant outline planning permission for the 345 homes on land off Wadington Road.

Furthermore, losing the appeal could prove costly to the council – that cost ultimately borne by local council tax payers.

The outline application for the controversial development by The Huntroyde Estate was turned down by Ribble Valley Borough Council’s Planning and Development Committee in February. At the time, councillors felt the development would cause traffic chaos due to the significant increase of cars.

However, the applicant appealed against refusal, meaning the final decision would rest with a Government planning inspector. Now the council has been advised by legal experts it would be futile to oppose that appeal.

Leader of the council Stuart Hirst said: “Expert legal advice indicates the authority now has no realistic chance of winning this particular appeal.

“Subsequent to the council’s refusal of this application, Ministerial statements on house-building and the Planning Inspectorate’s interpretation of planning policy have forced us to review our position.

“As lader of the cuncil, I have a duty to ensure public money is spent wisely and to proceed with this appeal in view of the advice we have received would be ill-considered, particularly given the authority may be facing further legal costs in relation to other planning appeals.”

Coun Hirst added: “We regret the Government’s planning guidance has made the authority’s position impossible to defend in this particular case. I have every sympathy with Ribble Valley residents and share their frustration and anger at the difficult position in which the borough has been placed in relation to extensive and unwanted development.

“I will be meeting residents and ward members at the earliest opportunity to explain the situation and offer any help we can. We do not view this as a precedent and will continue to examine each case on its merits.”

This application follows the go-ahead for 50 new homes on land off Milton Avenue by the same developer. An outline application for the homes was initially refused by the planning committee in July 2012, however, an appeal by the Huntroyde Estate against the decision was allowed by the Planning Inspectorate and outline planning permission was granted.

At the time, borough councillor Kevin Horkin expressed his disappointment and said the scheme could “set a dangerous precedent”.

Under current plans, a new junction with a right turn “ghost island” would be formed onto Waddington Road. This would give access to 220 housing units and a creche.

The second access, serving the remaining 125 houses, would be formed onto Kirkmoor Road.

News of the proposed housing development has prompted a backlash from residents who have vowed to fight this decision. Branding the council’s U-turn an “utter disgrace for Clitheroe”, Coun. Horkin, who is also the town’s mayor said: “This is a mad decision and devastating news for the town and the people that live here.

“We can only blame the Government, the planning minister and county hall. It’s an utter disgrace and makes a mockery of localism.”