Further to my letter of September 19th regarding the article “Its a good life in the Valley”, I attended the meeting with Nick Boles MP, Minister for Communities and Local Government, in the Council Chambers here in Clitheroe.
Having done so I am now firmly convinced that the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework is nothing more than a vehicle to remove the ability of local councils to control planning in their area so that developers could step in and make speculative applications for outline planning permisions on greenfield sites countrywide.
The fact that the Minister would not offer protection from speculative planning applications until our Core Strategy was in place reinforces my conclusion.
From enquiries I have made of the Department of Communities and Local Government I have established that of the 336 councils in England, 127have not yet submitted a Local Plan/Core Strategy. Of those submitted nine have been found unsound on examination and 32 have been withdrawn, presumably to be rewritten.
The Core Stategy for the RVBC did not appear in the data provided and on further enquiry I was told that it had not been withdrawn but returned for updating.
The whole procedure associated with the submission of Local Plans/Core Strategies appears to be nothing more than political manipulation intended to allow developers to make a massive land grab and build on greenfield sites in attractive rural areas where there is no great need for additional housing, simply to make millions of pounds in profit.
In the case of the Ribble Valley, where we are being inundated with speculative planning applications, the developers are, I feel, hoping to attract buyers of the “white flight” wishing to move from surrounding areas such as Blackburn, Burnley, Nelson, Accington etc.
Additionally our predicament has been further exacerbated by the failure of RVBC to produce an acceptable core strategy in a timescale which would have closed the window of opportunity for the submission of speculative planning applications which, despite council refusal, nevertheless, go forward on appeal.
I feel, inthis context, we as council tax payers, have been have been badly served by our borough council.
However, having said that I do have sympathy for the staff of our Planning Department who must feel totally demoralised by the turn of events.