A ROSSENDALE campaign group which aims to monitor activity at a new development of 130 homes, which it opposes, is due to hold an update meeting.

Grane Residents Association (GRASS) is campaigning against developer Taylor Wimpey’s plans to build 130 homes on land at Holcombe Road, Helmshore.

When Rossendale Borough Council granted planning permission for the homes in November, the group said its next phase of work would focus on ensuring that all the planning conditions designed to protect nature and local heritage features around the site are strictly followed.

Last month, the GRASS group held a public meeting at the Holden Arms pub in Haslingden. That was attended by around 30 people including some Conservative, Labour and Green borough councillors.

Since then, Green Party Coun Julie Adshead has held talks with a borough council planning officer about the next stages of work by Taylor Wimpey before physical building work starts.

In a report for the next GRASS meeting on Wednesday, March 9, Coun Adshead writes: “The meeting with the planning officer was very helpful and there is no doubt that the planning department is aware that, in this case, the conditions under which planning permission was granted will be tightly-monitored.

“It is expected that the Section 106 agreement (cash for Rossendale school, sports and community enhancements paid by Taylor Wimpey as part of the planning agreement) will not be signed-off until well into March. until which time the permission is not formally active. Therefore, the very earliest start date would likely be in April,” Coun Adshead states in her report to GRASS.

Coun Adshead understands that Taylor Wimpey is required to give two weeks’ notice before commencement of work.

She states: “The borough planning officer will emphasise to Taylor Wimpey’s agents that this formal notification will be expected. The planning officer has promised to let me know when notice is received. I’m investigating the consequences, should they commence without notice.

“Taylor Wimpey will have to make applications for discharge of the conditions and these will come through to councillors in a weekly list we receive. I will watch for these. All the necessary documents will be available to the public through the council’s planning portal,” she adds,

The Grane residents’ campaign group wants local volunteers to carry-out a host of tasks, from taking photos and videos to monitoring trees, hedgerows, water levels or traffic at the Helmshore site.

At the campaign group’s previous January meeting, GRASS member Andrew Taylor highlighted over 30 types of conditions attached to the Taylor Wimpey development. These include conditions for home designs, materials, trees and hedges, archaeology. drainage, contamination controls, road levels, construction vehicle wheel-washing, noise controls and waste collection.

Other councillors at the January meeting were Conservative Coun Alan Woods and Labour Coun Samara Barnes.

Speaking then informally after the meeting, Coun Woods said Taylor Wimpey needed to comply with conditions, but he feared Rossendale’s planning department would struggle to check because he felt there are not enough planning officers and resources.,

The GRASS group, founded 30 years ago, is aiming to be seen as representative of residents’ views and the climate change agenda. Its materials emphasise the role played by the landscape in slowing the run of water from the Rossendale hills into local rivers and the importance of green space to wildlife and people.

Other concerns include local identities and history, including the loss of some local hamlets to reservoirs built in the past. One campaigner, Jackie Ramsbottom, is unhappy with Taylor Wimpey’s plan to call the new estate Grane Village, according to GRASS materials about members’ interests.

When planning approval was given for the Taylor Wimpey in November, some Rossendale councillors said they were reluctant but had no choice, given the planning system. Some said the borough needed new family homes and Victorian terraces were out-dated and inefficient.

Wimpey Taylor says the Helmshore development will provide 130 much-needed family homes, which is critical to the borough’s housing supply. The Holcombe Road site had been identified by the borough council since 2015. All the details and technical matters were acceptable to planning officers and other authorities and had been through multiple consultations.

Speaking at the time, Taylor Wimpey agent Graham Lamb, of Pegasus Planning Group, said that without the Helmshore site and other allocated sites, the whole Rossendale area would be left open to speculative development.

Natural stone and slate will be used on 26 homes and there will be a remodelled dry-stone wall. Other changes include a widened footpath on Grane Road, two upgraded bus stops, road junction and roundabout works.

Regarding climate change and flooding, the new homes would have the latest insulation measures. United Utilities and the Environment Agency supported plans for water drainage, pipes, reopening of a culvert and run-off restrictions.

Recreational open space planned for the site was four times larger than required and 170 new trees and shrubs would be planted, Mr Lamb said.

Through Section 106 planning agreements, Taylor Wimpey is due to contribute £314,000 towards local school places, £74,000 for local outdoor sports and £64,000 for other local amenities.