Debate over the number of new homes being built in Burnley

Labour and the Tories clashed last night over the contentious question of new home developments in the borough.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 9:59 am
Updated Monday, 4th October 2021, 10:00 am

Debate raged after the Conservative group put forward a motion related to the council's Local Plan which sets out, amongst other things, where new housing could be built in the borough over the coming years.

The Government has said all councils must adopt a Local Plan, which residents can have their say on.

Burnley's Local Plan, which gives developers the green light to develop in certain areas of the borough, has faced mounting opposition, particularly in relation to new houses being built on green field sites in the Standen Hall area of Briercliffe, fields behind Smithyfield Avenue in Worsthorne and new properties just off Rossendale Road.

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Speaking after the meeting Conservative Coun. Don Whitaker, who represents the Whittlefield with Ightenhill ward, said: “I know many residents in our borough are rightly concerned about the number of new homes being built on green field sites. That’s what led our Group to bring this motion.

"We have plenty of brownfield sites which could used instead. And that’s not to mention the nearly 2,000 empty properties within Burnley and Padiham which could be brought back in to use. We need a local plan which prioritises empty properties and brownfield development.

"As the Government consults on new planning reforms we wanted to see the council actively engage to make our priorities heard. It’s just a shame that both Labour and the Liberal Democrats could not support it."

However, Labour revealed that the current Local Plan clearly states a “brownfield first” policy and 60% of housing sites in the local plan are brownfield sites.

Labour's leader of the council, Coun. Afrasiab Anwar said: "Support for the plan has been undermined by the government’s austerity that scrapped the Housing Market Renewal (HMR) programme.

"This project was delivering neighbourhood renewal by reshaping brownfield land across the borough at around £10m per year and provided the balance between developing attractive and affordable brownfield homes and the requirement for new growth sites.

"Nothing replaced HMR, thereby forcing developers towards greenfield sites, making it more difficult for the council to promote the use of brownfield sites and vacant homes. If HMR had been left to run its course instead of falling to austerity we would now be in a totally different place as a borough.

"Terraced houses are not proving popular with young families, older people or first-time buyers – is it wrong that people want to aspire to own a home with a garden?"

The amendment which passed instructs the council's chief executive Mick Cartledge to speak with the Member of Parliament Antony Higginbotham to seek support to oppose centralisation of planning powers.