Well done to the Back Commons Action Group and others who played a part in helping to defeat the Waddow View planning appeal.
It is truly a victory for the “man in the street”. However, their deserved success raises some very serous issues.
Firstly, RVBC’s own legal expert told them they had “no realistic chance of winning”. This left the residents of the affected area to fight this monumental battle on their own, while council officials sat back and did nothing. Having read all 80 pages of the inspector’s report, and indeed as it was a successful battle, it is perfectly obvious there was a realistic chance of winning, on several counts. Perhaps the council should sack their legal expert and let the residents of Clitheroe fight future appeals, for they certainly do it with dignity and style.
Secondly, and of equal importance, is the role played by Lancashire Highways Authority. These are the people who initially objected to the scheme on highways grounds, then at the 11th hour, rescinded this objection. The Inspector writes in his report, that:
“crucially, however, the combination of the geometrically substandard junction of Castle View/Bawdlands Bridge and the heavily parked Castle View and Kirkmoor Road route together with the additional environmental intrusion for local residents living on these roads forge a compelling reason for refusal. This is despite the position taken by LHA, which has been difficult to understand without the necessary investigations being conducted.”
So even the inspector cannot understand why they changed their minds! He describes the Castle View junction as having “substandard visibility” and finds it “astounding the junction does not have a “three-year personal injury accident record”. He attributes this last statement to careful driving.
Local people could plainly see the major issues in the Castle View/Kirkmoor Road area, the inspector could plainly see these issues, the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, trusted the inspector’s views and agreed with him. Why then, could LHA not see these issues?
How many other planning applications in Clitheroe, Whalley and Barrow have been lost on appeal as the LHA considered there to be no highways/traffic issues? How many new houses have been “dumped” on us because of this? Questions need to be asked of both RVBC and LHA, and answers given.