RESIDENTS have reacted angrily after a controversial housing development was given the go-ahead in a picturesque Ribble Valley village.

Now, people in Whalley fear the approval could open up the floodgates to hundreds of more homes elsewhere in the village.

Developers The Co-operative Group had gone head-to-head with council bosses and residents over the plans to build 80 houses on land near Riddings Lane.

Residents opposed the plans, raising concerns about the impact on wildlife and claiming their village would become a ‘sprawling housing estate’.

About 200 objections were put forward and resulted in the formation of the Save Whalley Village Action Group.

Consequently, Ribble Valley Council refused planning permission, but that decision has now been overturned by a planning inspector.

Nick Walker, chairman of the action group, said he was concerned thousands of new homes could be allowed in the village.

He said: “The Co-op applied to build the first 80 houses of a proposed 450 house estate on green fields in the village of Whalley.

“The villagers objected in droves. They were ignored by the Co-op, but councillors on the borough’s planning committee listened to the objections and refused the application.

“We feared the inspectorate had been nobbled by the Government and here is the proof.”

The report by the planning inspectorate stated there was ‘no reason’ to stop the mixed development of terrace, semi-detached and detached houses from going ahead.

It said: “I appreciate that representations have been raised in relation to great crested newts, agricultural land quality, trees, foul and surface water drainage, availability of medical and dental facilities, scale, residential amenity and employment.

“None of these matters is sufficient to justify withholding planning permission.”

The Co-operative Group spokesperson, said: “We welcome the planning inspector’s decision to support its planning application for houses north of Riddings Lane, Whalley.

“The group will now look to develop its specific plans for the actual houses before submitting a detailed planning application.”