Councillors called for controversial housing plans to be “rendered null and void” after developers asked to reduce the contribution they had agreed to make to local leisure and recreational facilities.
Members of Ribble Valley Borough Council’s planning and development committee approved in principle plans for up to 275 new homes to be built on land off Waddington Road in October.
Members resolved to defer and delegate approval for the controversial plans, known as the Waddow View Development, following the satisfactory completion of legal agreements.
However, the plans were brought back for discussion after the developer applied to reduce the amount it had agreed to contribute – in the region of £350,000 (£1,270 per house) reduced to £100,000 (£370 per house) – towards the provision of off-site recreation facilities.
At the meeting, Coun. Richard Newmark said: “This is penny pinching of the worst kind. What we are talking about is the equivalent of the market value of no more than 1.5 large detached houses. £250,000 will make a major difference to the long-term future of sporting and leisure facilities in Clitheroe which are used extensively by the general public.”
He added Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans is currently piloting a Ten Minute Rule Bill through the House of Commons at the heart of which is the idea that each planning application is to be subject to a contract between developers and a local authority. Breaking the terms of the contract will automatically result in those applications which have been granted approval being “rendered null and void”.
The council is currently looking at what open space and sports facilities are needed in the borough, and although its Ribble Valley Sports Facilities Needs Assessment is in its advanced stages, it is still currently in a draft form and has not been adopted by the council.
It had so far identified the cost of improving local facilities, and including Ribblesdale Pool, a figure of £350,000 was given to “mitigate the impact of the development on sports and open space facilities in Clitheroe and to improve the quality of provision”.
But as the document has not yet been adopted, the developer argued “little weight” should be given to its assessment. The developer also argued any contribution request should be based on the number of houses actually built, not the maximum number that could be built – 275.
The council’s community leisure and sports development manager said updates to the document since the original application in October mean the amount to be requested is now £520.56 per house.
“While the amount of £370 per dwelling now being offered by the applicants is less than the amount in the current version of the document, we are not in a position to fully apply the requirement of the document for the reasons referred to by the applicant,” recommended the council’s planning officer.
Members agreed with the officer’s recommendations and planning permission was once again deferred and delegated for approval following the satisfactory completion of the legal agreements.