RESIDENTS and community leaders are fighting plans to allow thousands of new homes to be built in the Ribble Valley.
New community groups have been formed and numerous meetings are being held to battle any potential for large-scale housing developments across the area.
Each council in the country has been asked to allow more homes to be built to plug a housing shortage.
Ribble Valley has not got as far as designating specific sites, but has drawn up five general proposals giving the number of houses it expects to be built in different towns and villages.
These include up to 1,553 in Clitheroe, 803 in Longridge, 321 in Whalley and 620 across 31 villages.
The developments would take place over the next 17 years.
A six-week consultation is being carried out before councillors decide which plan to implement.
Council leader Michael Ranson said: “National rules for planning and development are put in place by the Government, but it is the responsibility of local councils and their communities to devise detailed plans for their areas.”
Town councillors will be holding a meeting later this month to discuss the proposals, which will have a ‘big impact’ on the Ribble Valley town.
Under one option up to 1,553 homes could be built on the Standen Estate in Clitheroe.
Clitheroe town councillor Allan Knox said: “There are some concerns about these proposals and we will be discussing them at length.
"Many residents have raised questions about where these houses will go and how the transport links, sewers and schools will cope with the growing population.
"We are worried whether these potential large-scale developments will be sustainable.”
Residents and community leaders are holding a public meeting in Longridge Civic Hall on Monday, July 18, at 7pm.
They will discuss the impact of the proposals, with around 803 potential new homes in the pipeline for the area.
Rupert Swarbrick, Longridge town councillor, said: “There are some obvious issues and concerns surrounding this strategy and more houses will put stress on the existing fragile structure in the town.
"We already have some serious congestion problems and residents are worried about how the infrastructure will cope.
"We need these concerns to be addressed.”
Villagers have been invited to a meeting by local landowner, Barrow Lands Company Ltd, to consult about community facilities.
One of the options under the plans is that 1,950 homes could be built in the village.
The company, which is holding a meeting in The Eagle pub on Friday and Saturday, owns a site in the village that could accommodate up to 500 of the new homes.
Mother-of-one Sarah Parry, who has lived in Barrow for eight years, said: “These new homes will absolutely ruin our village and it will never be the same again.
"It is a massive blanket of new houses and it will have a devastating effect.
"It will ruin what we bought into and our countryside will be lost.”
Around 100 homes could be built in the small rural village.
Councillors have called for development to be spread out across the Ribble Valley, saying Billington has already been ‘hammered’ by over-development.
Coun Carl Ross, said: “We’ve had hundreds of homes built around here over the last few years.
"We are very concerned about over-populating this area and the roads and schools are already struggling.”
The biggest objections to development have been voiced in Whalley.
Members of the Save Whalley Village Action group, which boasts hundreds of members, are now holding weekly meetings to discuss potential plans for 321 more homes.
Nick Walker, chairman of the group, said: “We are carefully combing through all these strategy documents at the moment and we have found some glaring loopholes that developers would be able to use to their advantage.
"We are in constant contact with our members about this total over-development of our village.”
Locals formed a residents’ association to protect the ‘character' of Sabden on Tuesday night.
Dorothy Moore, who has spearheaded the group, said: “A lot of villagers are concerned at the large number of new homes being proposed and feel that it will seriously harm the village which is already struggling with major traffic and highways issues.”
Ribble Valley Borough Council's consultation is open until 5pm on August 12. Click on the link below to view the planning documents.