LETTER: Trying to get planning permission by stealth

I HAVE recently received an official letter from the Forward Planning Team at Clitheroe, addressed to “the occupier”.

Most letters I receive addressed to “the occupier” are put it in the bin and consigned forever to my paper waste recycling process. But then I had the thought “why has this been sent to my house?”

The issue highlighted in the letter was one of the council’s forward planning review on “Essential Open Spaces”. Essential open spaces are described as undeveloped land, car parks, play areas and such like.

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A quick call to the planning office identified that the reason for my letter was the council’s review of an area which is a private dwelling and land known as Park Hill. How can this area be described as an “essential open space”? The house, bungalow and associated buildings have been there developed for a considerable time.

In essence the review, if agreed, could remove current building restrictions on the area and allow planning permission to be sought in future. This could mean the current owner could sell the house and grounds with planning permission for a significantly higher price than the one paid for its current state.

I have no issues about progress and I understand the need that Clitheroe has to build more houses; what I take issue with is the stealth approach to the dumbing down of restrictions that most people would not recognise until it is too late.

Here are several questions I have posed of the planning department:

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Why would the council include a private dwelling in this review?

What does the council have to gain?

What has the current home owner of Park Hill to gain?

What effect would this have on Brungerley Sculpture Park?

Did the council think the vague “neighbour notification” letter approach would not be noticed by those who could be affected so the review and removal of restrictions would be agreed unopposed?

This clearly is planning permission by stealth. I await the response from our planning team, but there are several other essential open spaces under review, such as the car park of Tesco, land next to Clitheroe Hospital and more which readers may be interested in.

I want to raise awareness on this issue for all persons who could be affected so they can do something about it now before it’s too late. Go to: www.ribblevalley.gov.uk/planning