Rossendale Free Press
NOT ENOUGH BROWN SITES
CLLR Jackie Oakes rightly takes the Scribbler to task (Letters, December 3) over comments made in his or her column in the previous edition.
But instead of considering the points raised, the Scribbler continues to criticise councillors in this week’s column (‘Why didn’t they fight plans?,’ December 3).
He or she dismisses the concern that turning down the development would land the council with the huge costs of an appeal by referring only to the point that the land is identified in the as-yet unapproved Local Plan for housing.
The anonymous author ignores the fact that many of the residents’ objections were based on concerns about traffic congestion or flooding.
The council is legally obliged to consult Lancashire Highways and the Environment Agency on these matters and to take account of their views. The report to councillors makes abundantly clear that neither of them raised objections, and so surely even the Scribbler can see that the council wouldn’t have a leg to stand on at an appeal if councillors ignored the expert statutory consultees and turned the application down on those grounds.
In addition the Scribbler again trots out the myth, beloved of our MP Jake Berry and Conservative councillors, that the Valley is awash with brownfield sites which can accommodate all the housing targets the Government has landed the council with and there is no need to build on greenfield sites.
But none of them has ever come up with a list of these sites.
This is not surprising, because in their report on the Local Plan (available on the council website) the Inspectors agree with the council that there are insufficient sites on brownfield land and building on greenfield and Green Belt land will be necessary.
This is even though, as the Inspectors noted, the council had actively investigated brownfield site options as part of the assessment work and given them priority when selecting sites.
It is quite clear to me that the only way building on greenfield or Green Belt will be avoided is if the Government relaxes the targets for housebuilding.
Perhaps the Scribbler should focus his or her attention on this.
Margaret Mellis Edenfield