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Plan for 4,000 rural homes on outskirts of Blackburn
GREEN field sites covering 1,200 acres of countryside on the outskirts of Blackburn and Darwen have been earmarked for 4,000 executive-style homes.
The land to the north and west of Blackburn and around Darwen has been identified by the council as suitable for larger luxury properties over the next five years in a major switch of housing policy.
View a map of the sites: Blackburn development sites map.pdf
Instead of concentrating on two and three bedroom homes in urban areas, regeneration chiefs now want “Ribble Valley executive homes at Blackburn with Darwen prices”.
They are reacting to the easing of government policy on protecting “green belt” land and a desire to keep wealthy households within the borough as attempts to kick-start the local economy gather pace.
The ten sites, including five on the borders of the rural Ribble Valley currently swamped with applications for housing developments, and five around Darwen, cover 1,198 acres of which 593 are “green belt”.
The council wants 3,500 to 4,000 new luxury homes built there by 2018 taking them almost half way to a target of 9,400 new properties in the next 15 years and easing pressure on the Ribble Valley.
Critics have condemned the plans as in the wrong place, threatening the borough’s country borders and blighting land without any demand for the larger houses.
All sites are considered prime development land where private owners have indicated willingness to consider housing schemes.
The sites are:
- Blackburn Rugby Club, 200 homes
- Brownhill Drive, currently green belt, 300 plus
- Preston New Road, near Scarr Lane, 150 plus
- Parsonage Road, Wilpshire, 60
- Yew Tree Drive (Barker Lane to Preston New Road) 200 plus
- Gib Lane, 500 plus houses on two sites, one on green belt land to the east and one not green belt to the west
- Bailey’s Field Darwen, 500 plus
- Kirkham’s Farm, Cranberry Lane, Darwen, 200
- Pole Lane, Darwen on two sites, one in the north for 133 houses and a second to the south on green belt land for a further 130
- Jack’s Key reservoir, dozens of homes in small pockets.
Tory planning spokesman Alan Cottam said: “These are in the wrong place. There is no demand for this type of home in Blackburn with Darwen and it will destroy the countryside views that make the edges of the borough nice places to live.
“The borough was supposed to build 600 houses last year. Just 12 went up. The risk is that developers will buy this land and bank it for another day.”
Simon Hugill of Blackburn, Darwen and Rural Civic Voice said: “These houses are just not needed and won’t sell. It is not the Ribble Valley.”
Tory leader and Beardwood with Lammack councillor Mike Lee said: “These homes in my ward will be controversial with local residents, especially those around Blackburn Rugby Club. They won’t want development their destroying their country views.”
Borough regeneration director Brian Bailey said: “We are aware of the pressure on Ribble Valley for executive homes. The proposed sites are offering an option to developers to build high class properties with fine country views within Blackburn with Darwen.
“This is good for our borough but also allows us to work closely with our neighbours Ribble Valley. We want to see homes in Blackburn with Darwen offering local people all the advantages of country living while preserving the valley as a place of beauty and recreation.
“They will be Ribble Valley executive homes at Blackburn with Darwen prices.”
Councillor Dave Harling, executive member for regeneration, said: “As our economy grows, we need to ensure we have the right mixture of good quality homes, from small terraced houses and flats to large family or executive homes.
“They are also needed in order to attract new residents and employers to the area.
“Some land outside the built-up area will need to be developed, as well as some green spaces within the borough. “ Ribble Valley Tory leader Michael Ranson said: “I welcome those moves. We need executive homes in our neighbouring boroughs so we can protect our countryside.”
Town planner David Lock said: “This is a good idea by Blackburn with Darwen. There is a demand for these type of houses and I would recommend clients to look at these sites for development.”
Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: “This is a good move. We want people to be able to buy large executive homes and live in and pay their council tax to the borough.”
Second smaller plan to 'test the water'
THE developers behind the biggest single homes proposal in the Ribble Valley for decades have put in a second, smaller planning application.
The borough turned down the original scheme for 504 homes near Barrow after residents branded it ‘horrendous’.
While it is subject to an appeal to be heard this summer, the developer has submitted a smaller application on part of the land.
The Barrow Lands Company is now seeking approval for 190 homes to the south west of Barrow and west of Whalley Road.
Ribble Valley Council had its ‘core strategy’ for housing rejected by the government in January.
Borough leader Michael Ranson said: “I wish they would wait until we have got our core strategy agreed rather than try to force through schemes in the interim.”
David Lock, the Milton Keynes town planner acting for the London firm, said: “This is a smaller application to test the water and see whether the original was rejected over size or location.
“This is Ribble Valley’s own fault. If they had got their core strategy right, we would not need to do this.”