Lively debate as historic Local Plan is passed

The public gallery at Burnley Town Hall's full council chamber was packed
The public gallery at Burnley Town Hall's full council chamber was packed

Burnley’s Local Plan – a vast policy document which sets out where thousands of new homes, industrial sites and traveller provision are to be built in the borough – was given the green light following a lively debate between councillors and members of the public.

The contentious plan, one of the most wide-reaching ever to be discussed in the borough, finally arrived in the main chamber of Burnley Town Hall where the full council and six members of the public spoke passionately about the impact it would have on their lives and the future prosperity of the area.

Burnley Town Hall

Burnley Town Hall

A packed public gallery looked down on the assembled members, including council leader Mark Townsend who called on councillors to back the Local Plan with “vision and courage”.

Following the lively, sometimes heated, two hour debate, 22 councillors voted to accept the plan, with 15 against and one abstention.

Coun. Townsend said: “The Local Plan is a vitally important statement of our intent for the future of our borough.

“It will allow our people to thrive and achieve their ambitions. We need foresight, this is about having vision and courage. We want to continue Burnley’s recent resurgence.

“Change is hard. We want to be out in front. The key to the success of this plan is balance.”

Six members of the public were first given the chance to address the council, including three people who spoke about the inclusion of Oswald Street in Stoneyholme as a possible site for gypsies and travellers.

All speakers, Mr Mohammed Abdul Malik, Miss Rasheda Khanom-Miah and Mr Mozaquir Ali highlighted their opposition to the site, due to it being too close to Stoneyholme Primary School. The school’s headteacher had also expressed her opposition to the site.

Coun. Shah Hussain was the only Labour member to vote against the plan, due to his opposition to the traveller site, while Labour Coun. Sobia Malik abstained for the same reason.

Another hotly debated site included in the plan is that of Hollins Cross Farm, off Glen View Road, which has been earmarked for 184 homes, but which residents state is at risk of flooding.

Mr Martyn Bell, part of a group of residents who have already threatened the council’s Executive Committee with legal action, said: “We reserve the right to seek compensation,” and added “what goes around, comes around. We hope whoever votes yes tonight has a good night’s sleep.”

But Coun. Townsend hit back saying that Mr Bell had offered no evidence to back his claims and that there was “no significant flood risk at the site.”

The other members of the public to speak were Miss Evelyn Threlfall and Miss D. Stott.

Miss Stott spoke regarding the inclusion of land next to Queen’s Park Road for 29 new homes.

She said: “This is next to a former tip and Rowley landfill site. Lancashire County Council regularly monitor methane levels yet the word landfill site doesn’t appear in the document. This would directly impact on our homes and futures.

Miss Threlfall, meanwhile, questioned the need for new housing and said there was no need to develop on greenfield land.

Executive member for regeneration and economic development Coun. Sue Graham said that any developer who wanted to build houses on any of the sites would have to carry out appropriate surveys.

She added: “Our consultation was well above that required by statute. We feel very strongly that there should be a further chance for residents to air their views.

“Brownfield sites are still the preferred way, but we have had to also look at adjoining sites. The greenfield allocation is only 24%. Currently, two thirds of Burnley is rural and that proportion would remain.”

The Plan is on the council’s website and printed copies are available at Contact Burnley, Burnley Central Library and Padiham Leisure Centre.

There will now be a six-week formal consultation period for final representations. This will run from and including Wednesday April 12th up to and including Friday May 26th.

As part of the consultation, two drop-in sessions will be held to allow people to come and look at the proposals and speak to council officers about them.

These will both be held at Burnley Town Hall, between 2pm and 9pm, on April 18th and May 11th.