Common sense has taken a back seat over house building

More holes than a colander. No, not our roads, but the best way to describe remarks made by Ribble Valley Borough Council planning committee chairman Coun. Terry Hill. His attempts to allay the fears of Clitheroe residents, in a recent letter to this paper, only serve to confirm our worst fears.

Coun. Hill states new housing is required to “cater for the borough’s expected and forecasted housing needs”. Whose “forecasted housing needs”?

The only estimates that indicate we require excessive amounts of new housing have been invented by Coun. Hill and his cohorts in the Core Strategy.

The official 2011 census estimates the Ribble Valley is set to grow by 8.8% during the period of our local plan. That indicates Clitheroe requires less than 1,000 new houses, not the 2,500 we are likely to receive. Our rural market town has no need for the Standen Super Estate village councillors have forced upon us.

More alarmingly, numerous specialist reports, contained in the Core Strategy (which have cost the Ribble Valley taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds) have been ignored. They warn against building more than 4,000 houses across the borough, due to numerous environmental issues. The acceptance of this monstrous housing development flies in the face of that advice, as it ensures the local plan will deliver over 5,000 new homes.

Is Coun. Hill able to provide Clitheroe residents with a 100% guarantee a fully functional primary school will be delivered? Of course he isn’t. There are far too many issues regarding new schools which are outside RVBC’s remit. It is far more likely we will see a repeat of the Calderstones scenario when 39 houses were built on land set aside for a new school.

Who will benefit from the estimated 180 construction jobs this super estate is expected to provide? It most certainly will not be local builders, as national building companies bring their own tradesmen from outside the Ribble Valley.

The new roundabout at the Pendle Road/A59 junction is welcome, but it’s sad we have had to be coerced into accepting another 1,040 houses before it can be provided. The economic decline of Clitheroe will not be addressed by cramming in so many extra houses. It will decline further, as people stop visiting the town due to grid locked roads. There were also many omissions from Coun. Hill’s letter. No mention of the 
extra 5,000 cars, which will only add to the existing dangerous levels of carbon emissions. What about extra car parking facilities? How will our already overcrowded health centre accommodate another 6,000 people? Where will children be educated? The list is endless.

The census, expensive specialist reports, Clitheroe councillors and residents, all say this is a step too far. Unfortunately, village councillors disagree. It’s not only a case of democracy being dead, but common sense has taken a back seat also.