Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson has accused a housing developer of several planning law breaches over a development in Colne, and claimed that Pendle Council has done nothing to enforce it.
Altham-based McDermott Homes has defended itself against the accusations related to the building of 82 houses on The Lower Rough, off Windemere Avenue, after concerns were also raised by residents.
Mr Stephenson has claimed that "the developer has already fallen foul of some of the planning conditions attached to the application, as well as ignoring rules around the Lidgett and Bents Conservation Area."
He added that violations have so far included rushing through a bird survey, but not having that planning condition signed off by the council’s Policy and Resources Committee, as well as breaking an agreement with local group Lidgett and Beyond to involve them in the survey.
The Tory MP also claimed that work has started before all planning conditions had been signed off by council officers; that the developers had blocked the brook off Coniston Grove with hardcore, and erected a large, illegal advertising sign in the Lidgett and Bents Conservation Area, and that its workers had winched residents’ vehicles without the owners’ permission.
He said: "Several residents have contacted me to express their dismay at how Pendle Council is allowing McDermott to ride roughshod over planning conditions and planning law. It’s important that any disruption is kept to a minimum during the construction phase, but it seems as if McDermott are doing the exact opposite and trying to disrupt as many people as possible.
“I am disappointed that Pendle Council seems to be condoning such actions. I have raised my concerns with the chief executive and I have also written to McDermott insisting they ensure all the planning conditions made after the appeal decision are strictly adhered to, that residents are consulted as construction progresses, and the illegal signage in the Conservation Area is removed.”
Pendle Council and McDermott Homes have both responded to the accusations.
Dean Langton, chief executive of Pendle Council, said: “We’ve worked, and continue to work with, the developer, McDermott, to address any issues which are most likely to arise on a large housing development like this.
“All of the conditions which needed to be fulfilled by the developer before work started on site have been met.
“They’ve sought, where possible, to accommodate local residents when carrying out the bird survey but they were under no obligation to do so.
“The council has visited the site on several occasions and can confirm that no ground nesting birds were observed.
"Pendle Council has received a number of comments from local residents and other interested parties but it has not been necessary to take enforcement action for breaches of any conditions.
"The large sign was put up by the developer without prior advertisement consent but we have since received a retrospective application which will be determined in due course."
Andrew Darbyshire, land director for McDermott Homes, responded to the accusations by saying that no work has started on site without prior discharge of pre-commencement conditions.
Regarding the advertising board he added: "All developers and construction companies always display advertisements announcing there is to be a sale of goods on land which are not normally used for commercial purposes. Planning laws allow permitted development rights to advertise the fact that a construction site is starting.
"The sign is located in a Conservation Area and for this reason, we submitted a retrospective planning application in early June to ensure compliance with any special measures required by the Local Planning Authority."
Mr Darbyshire also responded to the accusations regarding McDermott workers winching a resident's car by saying that the car had been parked to wilfully obstruct a highway without lawful excuse.
He added: "In their judgment (resident) they decided to park their vehicles on a public highway which served to obstruct the entire highway which is our only means of access to the site, before leaving the country for a holiday.
"The wilful obstruction of a highway without lawful excuse can be tested as a criminal offence, but we are not intent on raising a claim on this matter at the moment. We prefer to refer you to the Highways Act 1980. The right at common law is to remove a physical obstruction.
"Obstruction is a nuisance contrary to common law and the law permits abatement of an obstruction of such a nuisance, if no alternative means of access is available without serving notice on the offender."