Plans to build dozens of homes on historic parkland in Pendle village rejected
Beck Homes Ltd had sought planning permission for 79 houses on land north-east of St Thomas Church in Wheatley Lane Road.
The plan included new infrastructure and new access through a historic stone wall, councillors on Pendle’s Policy & Resources Committee heard.
A Pendle planning officer had recommended approval to be delegated to a planning manager, who would consider various issues and conditions further.
The discussion began with John Wilcock, a consultant who has worked with Beck on the plan, speaking in favour of it.
He said: “I have worked with Beck for 15 years and in planning for 50 years. I was able to guide Beck both on the district’s characteristics and policies, and particularly the design of the scheme to make sure it was in accordance with the development plan.
“Beck has been working on this for three years. We’ve had a lot of conversations with statutory bodies. Beck has just finished the Red Lane scheme, which was opposed by Pendle Council. However, bits were allowed by the planning inspector and have been a success. Beck wants to keep a presence in Pendle, building sustainable houses. This is part of that.
“In each case, this [Barrowford] application passes planning policies. This proposal should be supported by Pendle Council. I realise we have members of the public here who feel quite extreme. However, if you follow policy, you should support it.”
Mr Wilcock added: “The proposed site is surrounded on many sides by existing development. It is not open countryside. It is close to the village’s centre and cannot be compared to the Pasture Lane application. They are like chalk and cheese. Each application should be judged on its individual merits. ”
However, a number of other people spoke against the plan.
Susan Nike spoke on behalf of Barrowford Parish Council and a couple who live in a lodge house near the site.
She said: “You must refuse this for many different reasons. Never mind what your planning officer says. At peak times, traffic in Barrowford comes to a stand-still in both directions. Parents and children have to walk on the road because of narrow pavements and parked cars. There are also concerns about flooding problems and drainage.
“Beck’s plan for a footpath through the new site is nonsense. There are also concerns about the site’s closeness to the village’s conservation area.
She added: “We have already had 500 houses in Chop Lane. The area cannot take any more of this. It will cause absolute chaos.”
Terry McGinn criticised consultant John Wilcock’s earlier suggestions to councillors.
Mr McGinn said: “When you narrow the discussion into such tight terms then it renders the councillors helpless. It limits their role as representatives of the people of Pendle. Councillors roles’ should be to look at how a plan fits into the vision for Pendle, if they have a vision?
“If this reliance [on referring to planning policy or guidance) is the only criteria then it could be done by a member of staff. Does it match the tick boxes? Rubbish. Proposals are complex and Pendle has a multiplicity of needs.”
He added: “In some areas of Pendle, there is no transport and workers cannot afford to live there. In some areas, there are houses that are not fit for human habitation. I know it. You know it. If new housing just spreads-out like ringworm, the old houses will be left untouched.
“Who has the vision for Pendle? A millionaire living on the Isle of Man? Speculators? Or councillors?
“Councillors have to balance someone’s gain with someone’s loss. It’s easy to measure the financial loss of meeting government measures. But it’s hard to measure the cost of losing other things. This is ridiculous. This is not your vision.”
Janet Thomas said she wanted to refer to the Pasture Lane application and most of her comments were about roads. She felt the Beck application should be deferred until the Pasture Lane application had been determined. That has been rescheduled for a future Policy & Resources.
Conservative Coun Nadeem Ahmed, who is also Leader of the Council, said: “We have received many calls and emails about this application. Points include school places, GP and dentist spaces, road safety, traffic gridlock, flooding, design and density of the new homes.
He added: “One of the main reasons to refuse it may be the significant impact on the conservation area? Some experts say the impact will be minor. That’s a matter of opinion. Does it bring sufficient benefits to residents? No. It would increase traffic and make attending appointments more difficult. I move refusal and urge all councillors to oppose it.”
Conservative Coun Sarah Cockburn-Price criticised some of the house designs and building materials, the impact on the parkland setting and plans to create an entrance in a historic stone wall.
She said: “The front houses have nice materials but there are horrible, bog-standard houses elsewhere. This a semi-rural parkland area which has been there since the 1800s. It’s part of Barrowford’s story, showing how it has grown. To breach it and cut the height of the wall would be wrong. We would lose the majesty of the area.”
Conservative David Cockburn-Price said: “We don’t want green fields built on. If Beck came-up with a big plan for an old brownfield site, we would welcome it with open arms. In Colne, we have been trying to identify brownfield sites and developers say the sites are ‘not viable’.”
Labour Coun Zafar Ali said he welcomed the democratic discussion on this application between councillors. But he added: “We must think of the whole borough and keep an eye on future planning. We must not pitch one town or village against another, or say there is some space here or there. ”
In a vote, the committee refused the application.