Ribble Valley Borough Council’s Planning Department has rendered itself no longer fit for purpose.
The acceptance of 1,040 houses surrounding Standen Hall saw the death of democracy and the rise of incompetence in the Ribble Valley. Those might sound like harsh words, but let’s look at the evidence.
This application has been with RVBC for over 12 months and the 122-page document shows little has changed from the original. There are over 70 instances where the application fails planning rules or guidance issued by the National Planning Policy Framework. To bring this application forward in its present format, with a recommendation to accept, is outrageously premature given the Government inspector’s visit to the Ribble Valley next month.
The inspector has already asked why there is a reliance on such a large estate in Clitheroe. The Standen application is the preferred option in RVBC’s Core Strategy, against the wishes of Clitheroe residents. The inspector may well have agreed with the local viewpoint, but now the plan is accepted it cannot be overturned, no matter what the official concludes.
Nobody spoke in favour of the application, except seven of the nine councillors who voted it through, and John Macholc (chief planning officer). There was not even a representative from Standen Estates to speak in favour. Three councillors outside the planning committee all objected to this development, citing numerous issues.
The most alarming piece of information came from Clitheroe Mayor Coun. Kevin Horkin. He informed the planning committee Clitheroe features in the top five worst towns in the entire UK for CO2 emissions, with 160% more than the national average.
But committee members still voted nine to five in favour of the 2,000 extra cars this development will bring, which are extra to the 3,000 cars other developments already in the pipeline will attract.
So who is in favour of destroying Clitheroe with all these extra houses? The Land Owner, the Developer, RVBC officers, nine councillors and one (yes, one!) member of the public. Those against are 11 specialists, including Lancashire County Highways (who are concerned about highway safety and access arrangements), 2,500 Clitheroe residents who have either signed petitions or objection letters and five councillors.
The nine councillors in favour did not even have the courage of their convictions, rejecting a recorded vote on two separate occasions. It was stated repeatedly that this is the biggest housing application ever to come before RVBC, so I think it only fair the vote becomes common knowledge.
Those planning committee members in favour were councillors: Bibby (Wilpshire), Carefoot (Derby & Thornley), Hilton (Waddington & West Bradford), Holgate (Whalley), Rogerson (Alston & Hothersall), Sayers (Ribchester), Thomas (Langho), Thompson (Wiswell & Pendleton), White (Derby & Thornley).
Those against: Brown (Clitheroe), Knox (Clitheroe), Yearing (Clitheroe), Mirfin (Billington), Taylor (Clayton-Le-Dale).
There you have it, Clitheroe is to be vandalised by another 1,040 houses, supported by councillors from surrounding villages not those representing our rural market town.