LETTER: Join together to fight to save Whalley

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I AM writing in response to your article (August 11th) on the Co-op planning appeal for 80 houses in Whalley.

While I thought the article was fair to both sides, I wish to respond to the comments concerning my statements to the inquiry and again alert Ribble Valley residents to the mass development they could soon be facing.

I made statements regarding the problems with both drainage and flooding in Whalley and as to the poor mitigating strategy put forward to deal with the migration of Great Crested Newts found on the development field and a pond in Limefield Avenue.

I outlined many issues for the Inspector but was not “reassured” these could all be resolved. I did accept that if planning permission is granted then conditions would be set by RVBC but I also pointed out RVBC have known of the severe drainage problems for years and no steps have been taken to address the drainage system. I also presented photos of the extensive flooding of the field for development and the village centre, and highlighted the major concerns of Whalley residents.

Secondly I did state Whalley could be ruined by development, not specifically by this 80-house development, but by the prospect of about 1,000 houses being built. It is no secret now that Co-op estates wish to build a total of 450 houses on this land, 80 will be Phase 1! There is the application with the council for 300 houses at Lawtensteads and other pre-application talks for a further 250 houses near Mitton Road and even possibly more at Calderstones. This is on top of the huge Calderstones development and houses currently being built on this site and in Barrow.

It beggars belief that RVBC can think Whalley can take so much housing. The Core Strategy “consultation” is going on but RVBC are advertising the Ribble Valley as ripe for development and developers are jumping in. The Core Strategy states a need for 3,000 new houses over 20 years. I would implore RVBC to listen to the responses that will tell them the Ribble Valley does not need 3,000 houses and, even if this figure were to be correct, why are we considering such large numbers now at a time of economic uncertainty and when situations and planning regulations can readily change?

Only two weeks ago there was an article in this newspaper that stated that 1,572 houses are currently for sale, rent or are empty.

RVBC and LCC both stand to gain significantly in financial terms from development and the developers will make huge profits but it is the Ribble Valley and its residents who will be the losers.

As an example of the flawed use of statistics to justify their pursuit of a totally inappropriate housing strategy, RVBC have classified Whalley as a “Service Centre.” But this is based on a purely paper exercise with scorings for facilities and amenities in which Whalley scored only four points less than Clitheroe as it doesn’t have a secondary school! This is RVBC’s reason for wanting to ruin Whalley village. It is plainly ludicrous to compare the village of Whalley with a town like Clitheroe.

I would ask RVBC to think seriously again about its figures and responsibilities to the people of Ribble Valley. Development should be spread fairly across all Ribble Valley settlements and thus the majority built in Clitheroe. The proportions of new houses should reflect populations and most new housing should be affordable so people can remain in the area they grew up in. RVBC should also think creatively about the use of Brownfield sites instead of the destruction of Greenfield areas.

Lastly, I would say it is time for all Ribble Valley residents’ groups to get together to challenge RVBC on these pressing issues before it is too late. We don’t want village pitted against village and need to act now before it is too late and not only Whalley but the whole of our beautiful Ribble Valley is ruined forever.