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Council leader slams plan to build 500 homes in Ribble Valley village
THE biggest single homes plan in the Ribble Valley for more than two decades has sparked a storm of protest.
Residents have branded the application for 504 homes near Barrow ‘horrendous’ while Ribble Valley council leader Michael Ranson said the proposal was ‘ludicrous’.
MP Nigel Evans said it was the latest attempt by housing developers to turn his rural constituency into a giant housing estate.
If the plan, submitted by London developer The Barrow Lands Company, is approved it would more than double the size of the existing village.
According to objectors it would also blow a hole in Ribble Valley council’s draft core planning strategy, which proposes 4,000 new homes by 2028 across the borough.
Tony Bracewell, chairman of the Barrow Community Action Group, said: “It is horrendous.
“We are under siege by land owners who are just trying to get as much in as they can while the planning framework is not finalised and the core strategy is not finalised. It will ruin the Ribble Valley.
“We are not objecting to small developments but to put 504 new houses in a village is just ludicrous.
“We are all just ordinary residents and our lives have been shattered by these applications. We feel we have to make a stand.
“The key thing is appropriateness and this is absolutely inappropriate.”
The application is for 353 market-priced houses, as well as 75 properties for social rent and another 76 for low cost home ownership schemes.
There are currently only 482 homes in the whole of the parish of Wiswell with Barrow.
The land for the proposal is currently owned by The Barrow Lands Company, whose chief executive is Hugh Geddes. The company was involved in developing the Barrow Printworks site into the Barrow Enterprise Park.
Ribble Valley MP Mr Evans said: “I am totally opposed to this development. The government has given councils like Ribble Valley more flexibility about their use of land but this is another case of developers trying to sneak in before the borough’s core strategy is approved.
“This development would swamp Barrow which has taken its fair share of housing development in recent years. The local roads and school just could not cope.
“It is the latest attempt to turn the Ribble Valley into the Ribble Housing Estate.”
Coun Michael Ranson, leader of the borough council, said: “It just seems a ludicrous number of houses. It just seems extraordinary to me.
“The Ribble Valley has been inundated in the last 12 months.
“It would more than double the size of the village. Any development should be proportionate and I cannot believe that this one is.”
Coun Joyce Holgate, who sits on the borough planning committee, said the size of the application made her worry about infrastructure such as school places for families moving in.
She said: “This is the biggest application in one go I have seen in my 17 years on the council.”
Two further smaller planning applications have also been submitted for land around Barrow village which in 2009 saw a mini-village of 80 homes approved. The other plans are for seven homes at land off Clitheroe Road, and 23 houses in Old Row.
Duncan Chadwick, of Milton Keynes-based town planners David Lock Associates acting for the developer, said: “I am not surprised at the hostile reaction in the Ribble Valley.
“The proposal is a direct response to the urgent need to deliver additional homes in the borough.
“This is about the housing needs of Ribble Valley and nowhere else.
“My client has long had interests in the area. Despite the North West Plan requiring Ribble Valley Council to deliver 2,900 additional homes by 2021, there has been a long history of under-provision and persistent under-delivery in the borough.”
The Barrow Lands Company proposal is considerably bigger than controversial proposals given the go-ahead in the 1990s for 400 homes in Brockhall Village and more than 300 in Calderstones Park.
Ian Lloyd, managing director of East Lancashire’s biggest chartered surveyors Mortimers, said: “I just fear that this type of large development is going to flood the market and detrimentally affect the character of the Ribble Valley.”
The core strategy is due to be approved next week by the council before submission to the Government.
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