What is happening to the idyllic town we retired too? We chose Clitheroe for its character as a small compact town with everything – capable of attracting tourists while providing a wide range of shops and services for local residents.
Moreover it was all within walking distance of green countryside to attract people to exercise locally and gladden their hearts.
We expected new houses to be fitted in here and there so as to allow the town to maintain its character – but not proposals like Waddow View with a massive new estate sited on the nearest fields that are practically commons, with paths well used by everyone from elderly dog walkers to school children to access the river.
There is a dual risk health problem here. The loss of walking areas comes at a time when a major government objective is to increase daily exercise for all to protect against the epidemic of heart disease associated with obesity and diabetes.
In addition, this Waddow View proposal, on top of the large development along Henthorn R0ad, will bring traffic gridlock on overcrowded streets in the north-west of the town centre. The resultant emissions will drive up air pollution but CO2 levels in Clitheroe, exacerbated by narrow streets and steep hills, are already one of the worst per person in England – over double the national average.
Green spaces act to ameliorate CO2 levels, so the loss of those in close proximity will make it even worse. Asthma in children plus chronic lung disease will increase, as will heart disease, but the effects on mental health and general sense of well-being from loss of local green space may be the most pronounced.
Town planning exists to promote sensible development that incorporates the necessary building of new homes into a broad scheme that protects green areas and promotes healthy living.
So where does Ribble Valley Borough Council stand in this? Attempts to consult their development plan to see how they approach the problem revealed the revised plan to replace the one due to expire in 2008 has still not been finalised. This leaves greedy developers to make their proposals in isolation. Only vigorous protests by residents blocked the earlier version.
This is surely a matter for all who want to see Clitheroe maintain its special character. Hopefully the protests will this time be even more determined and involve the wider town population plus surrounding villages who shop here.
Paul and Jean Bacon
Back Commons, Clitheroe