RIBBLE Valley Council is starting another six months of work on its housing development strategy after a planning inspector found “fundamental concerns” in the proposals.
In a letter to the authority, inspector Simon Berkeley said that much of the information detailed in the core strategy, which details how many houses the Ribble Valley needs to build to meet demand between 2009 and 2029, was “out-of-date” or did not quantify the need for affordable housing.
In the report, Mr Berkeley said he had “strong doubts” about whether the plan would make it through the scrutiny stage because the evidence provided had come from 2008.
He said: “The base of evidence underpinning the plan’s strategic approach to housing and economic development is not adequately up-to-date.
“I am concerned that it will not stand up to scrutiny through the examination hearings.
“This is a fundamental problem.”
He advised for the core strategy either to be suspended or withdrawn to allow updates to be made.
Michael Ranson, leader of Ribble Valley Council, said that the council was now co-operating with the inspector’s suggestion to suspend the core strategy and hoped to resubmit it by June.
He said: “It is not positive but it is a fact of life.
“Most core strategies start this way, so it is nothing unusual.
“We have had various consultations with the inspector and we have agreed a programme of doing some additional work and updating our figures.
“The council has now put the submission of the core strategy back to June.
“We started this process about five or six years ago and we have got to go through all these consultations so it was inevitable that certain things would be out-of-date.
“The council is going to do everything the planning inspector asked for in his letter — it will cost money. We have to employ certain consultants and we are negotiating with them but it is all in our budget.”
Ron Loebell, from the Save Whalley Village Action Group which is campaigning against house building in the village, said: “It is not surprising at all. The council never listened to the public about this.
“They asked us for observations but as far as I am concerned never really took on board what people were saying.
“Planning applications will just come flooding in for the next six months now.
“My way of looking at it is that all these houses that are going up are between £200,000 and £300,000, but they keep saying they are doing it all to make affordable housing.
“Who on earth has got the the money to buy one of those?”