Government is constantly moving the planning goalposts

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So, another appeal is lost. Barratt Estates, under the guise of David Wilson Homes, having been refused permission to build 137 properties in front of the Whalley Viaduct, successfully had the decision overturned on appeal.

The borough council’s wish to preserve the Valley’s heritage, control the level of house building, prevent urban sprawl and maintain the rural aspect of Whalley has been shattered by yet another development being allowed on the green fields surrounding the village.

Every one of the developer’s arguments for building the development was accepted by the inspector over the equally valid reasons given by RVBC against building it. Clearly this is another example of the inspectorate carrying out Government policy.

This week the planning committee will have to face the third application submitted by Commercial Estates Group to build on the Lawsonstead site, a site which slopes up to Spring Wood and is visible from all around the village.

The council refused the first application for 300 homes due to the size and scale of the development and the loss of the visual amenity of the site.

The application to be decided this time is for 260 houses on the same site. The developers claim the design is fundamentally different from the original application and therefore the earlier objections do not count.

What nonsense! It matters not how they arrange their houses – they will still have a detrimental effect on the look of the site and the nature of the village. Even one house would have such an effect. The site should be preserved for current and future generations. The council set a precedent in refusing the original application and permission should be refused again.

However, with the council losing appeal after appeal and the news last week that it was not going to contest the Waddow View appeal for 360-plus houses in Clitheroe, you have to wonder if the council has capitulated.

It cannot be denied that the council has tried, with a few exceptions, to apply its policies and uphold the wishes of local people. It has refused applications knowing appeals are likely and costly.

So what has gone wrong? The whole planning process is against anything which might stop houses being built wherever the developers want to build them. The Government, by constantly moving the planning goalposts, is ensuring this is so. Despite delegations from the Valley to meet with planning ministers and lobbying MPs from the governing party, nothing has been done to help the council’s position.

Local people have effectively been removed from the decision-making process. Understandably there is fury among them at the way the Government is acting, particularly when told local decision making is a key objective of the Localism agenda.

If the councillors cannot fulfil their role any more there is only one course of action left to them: make their protest and resign.