Rossendale Free Press

We need more local voices among council’s planners


NEWS that Rossendale councillor­s on the developmen­t control committee couldn’t find a reason to reject a planning applicatio­n for 130+ homes on fields between Haslingden and Helmshore continues to cause debate online.

As this column suggested last week, readers shouldn’t be fooled by the notion that Rossendale Council’s hands had been tied by the Government when it came to the proposal, off the Grane Road and underneath the three reservoirs which sit alongside the Grane Road.

It was Rossendale Council which chose to mark the site as suitable for housing developmen­t in its Local Plan.

So when councillor­s say they have no choice but to approve the developmen­t, it’s not because Government planning rules insist they do, it’s because they chose to make the site one they were happy to see houses built on.

The minutes of the meeting confirm seven councillor­s voted in favour of the plan and two voted against.

Various caveats need to be confirmed with developer Taylor Wimpey before work can begin, primarily around the developer’s payments to pay for extra school places and support services, including a contributi­on to aid the running of Haslingden Sports Centre.

Such things will be easy for Taylor Wimpey to deal with – it’s part and parcel of the planning process – so we should expect diggers on site too.

That the councillor­s on the committee couldn’t find the heart to fight a developmen­t on green countrysid­e when there are so many brownfield (preused) sites waiting to be developed is hugely disappoint­ing.

In the meeting, councillor­s seemed very worried by the idea that if they refused the developmen­t, the developer would appeal

to the planning inspector, and win, and that would cost Rossendale Council at least £150,000.

What price showing you’re listening to residents, and, crikey, sticking up for residents?

Rossendale Council can find cash to fund heritage projects – rightly – which help preserve Rossendale.

Yet they can’t find the cash to stand up for keeping Rossendale’s countrysid­e in tact?

One argument put forward was that, in years gone by, Rossendale opposed the

redevelopm­ent of the old Airtours site in Helmshore.

It lost that battle on appeal.

But that site was also a brownfield site.

This is digging up countrysid­e, with residents very fearful of flooding, loss of wildlife and increased traffic.

So when one councillor said they needed a good reason to turn it down, they had many. But their over-riding one should have been their duty to stick up for residents of the borough.

Of the seven councillor­s who voted

for the developmen­t, one was from Bacup, one from Stackstead­s, one from Waterfoot, two from Rawtenstal­l and one from the other end of Haslingden.

Only one of the nine actually represente­d the area affected – Cllr Tony Haworth of Helmshore.

The developmen­t control committee needs to be more local – it seems very odd the councillor­s can decide what can and can’t be built, with no recourse from residents through democratic processes because they aren’t represente­d by the people who are voting to

change their area.

Planning needs to be truly local for our voices to be heard – local area committees which took these decisions, would be far fairer on the people who fund the council through their taxes. At the moment, we have the worst of all words: A developmen­t control committee which seems afraid to stand up for Rossendale, implementi­ng a local plan determined by a council which seems determined to blame the Government for decisions it has made.

Something has to change.

 ?? ?? ●●Debate continues to rage over Rossendale council’s failure to reject Taylor Wimpey’s plans to build 131 homes on land off Holcombe Road and Grane Road in Haslingden
●●Debate continues to rage over Rossendale council’s failure to reject Taylor Wimpey’s plans to build 131 homes on land off Holcombe Road and Grane Road in Haslingden

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