As I See It: Pandemonium Alley

It is obvious from the recent county council elections that Clitheroe residents are extremely concerned about over development.

The top three candidates all campaigned on this issue and received 88% of votes cast.

Soon Ribble Valley Borough Council’s planning committee will be debating the 1,040 Standen “Super Estate” application and its implications for Clitheroe. But before any decisions are made here’s a reminder of last year’s events.

In June CRAG (Clitheroe Residents Action Group) submitted almost 1,000 signatures on a petition to add to the 1,100 which had already forced a full council debate about the unfair allocation of new houses proposed for Clitheroe in the Core Strategy.

A council meeting in August chose to ignore that 2,100 signature petition and ratified the Core Strategy without change. This was later submitted to the Secretary of State and proposed 1,700 new homes for Clitheroe. This is 42% of the entire Ribble Valley new housing total. CRAG argues that Clitheroe should receive no more than 25% (1,000 new homes).

CRAG was assured the petition had been duly noted by RVBC. We were also assured this would be forwarded to an inspector with other documentation, in order that he might formulate a view on the plan. The inspector would then call a public meeting around March, 2013, at which all sides could put their case.

RVBC stressed this public meeting was the place for CRAG to contest Clitheroe housing numbers. What happened? The Core Strategy was returned due to out-of-date supporting information, meaning the public meeting would be delayed six to nine months and held towards the end of 2013. This means Clitheroe residents have not yet had the opportunity to convince the inspector to reduce new housing totals due to mistakes made by the council.

Currently outline or full permission has been granted for the building of 836 houses in Clitheroe. If the Standen application is permitted we will have 1,876 houses with granted permissions. That is 176 more than contained in the Core Strategy and 876 more than CRAG insist Clitheroe need. Granting this application can only be achieved by presumption. The planning authority will be presuming the inspector is going to agree with their figures against the express wishes of the community. Once the application is accepted there is no going back. If consultation means anything planning officers will recommend refusal of the Standen application and the planning committee will enforce that decision. It is not the fault of residents that we have been unable to consult the person that matters.

There are numerous reasons to decline the application. The NPPF document, which is the Governments own planning “bible”, contains a section on “Promoting Sustainable Transport”. Here it states safe and suitable access to the site should be achieved for all people.

It is neither “safe” nor “suitable” to have over 1,500 cars accessing this new super estate via one entrance on Pendle Road. The Littlemoor entrance will now only be accessed by emergency vehicles, cycles and pedestrians.

Cars required for commuting to work, completing the school run and doing the shopping can only escape via Pendle Road. Or might it become Pandemonium Alley?