Over the past three years I have been fighting for common sense to prevail regarding new housing in both Clitheroe and the Ribble Valley.
During this period there has been much discussion about why we need all these extra properties and, equally, as many reasons why we don’t.
Some of the arguments in favour include: Affordable housing so the young can get on the property ladder; more housing options when the elderly are downsizing; and extra social rented properties for those unable to buy.
All these points have merit and are very worthwhile reasons to provide some extra housing in the Ribble Valley.
The main bone of contention is the total number of properties RVBC deems necessary and where they are to be situated. The other major criticism surrounds developers claiming oversized estates benefit communities, when clearly they do not. But after reading a recent edition of the Advertiser and Times another reason has surfaced for overdeveloping the Ribble Valley. This has nothing to do with the need for extra housing. It is solely to provide backup in case a business “goes bad”.
Based on the statement made by Chris Hanson, saturating communities with houses they neither need nor want is a viable option to replace a struggling business.
This highlights how easy agents, landowners and developers perceive it is to make a fast buck in the name of “housing development”. It also further strengthens the argument that new planning rules and the Localism Act have become a developers’ charter.
The idea behind the Core Strategy was to plan housing requirements over a 20-year period on a supply and demand basis. It was not designed to provide a development option to replace an ailing business.
What makes Chris Hanson think Barrow is in need of any more housing? The Ribble Valley already has potential to build almost 4,500 new properties based on current applications, while Barrow has been saddled with over 200 extra houses recently.
Making provisions to ensure future security is understandable. But it appears the all-too-easy option is build, build, build. Now I’m not sure how many new houses the land at Hanson’s is capable of holding, but one is too many. The Ribble Valley community would be better served by a new school or health centre (or both). But perhaps that would not be as easy or lucrative as saturating us with more housing. Let’s hope other struggling businesses don’t follow this lead or we will end up with masses of housing but nowhere to work or shop.