FARMERs, villagers and a parish council chairman stormed out of a planning meeting after plans to build a £6m. holiday village were effectively given the green light.
Pendle Council’s planning manager now has the final say on the application to build 55 holiday home lodges in Salterforth after the West Craven Committee delegated the decision to him.
Salterforth Parish Council chairman Coun. Jeff Haydock and gathered farmers and villagers were angered by the decision and said it had been “railroaded” through.
The plans are for 55 carbon neutral single-storey timber lodges along with a site reception building with a shop, cafe and health spa, as well as managers’ accommodation at the site off Moor Lane.
Residents could live in the homes for 11 months of the year and the equivalent of 10 full-time positions would be created.
The row erupted after a notice was provided to councillors just before the meeting that the developer Halton Homes could be required to provide over £20,000 to enhance public footpaths which are situated in farmers’ fields neighbouring the proposed site at Park Close Quarry.
After consultation with villagers at a parish council meeting, Coun. Haydock had expressed approval for the plans in principle but he said the possibility of tourists walking through farmers’ fields was not something that had ever been mentioned before and he wanted to defer the decision so consultation with the landowners could take place.
Coun Haydock said: “I don’t think the developer was even aware of what the planning department had come up with for the footpaths.
“We have understood all along that the developer would pay for safety measures down Salterforth Lane and the developer had agreed to make walk ways where possible.
“We thought there would be traffic calming measures like speed limits from the top of the lane but at the meeting there was a report submitted to us minutes before it started.
“Nobody knew where the footpaths mentioned were but the farmers suspected they cross their fields. The developer didn’t know about it and has not been party to this. The farmers were angry for obvious reasons as it had never been discussed with them. The consequence would be major disturbance to their land. They don’t want herds of people trawling across their land with grazing livestock, dogs running around and dropping litter. I’ve never seen them so angry.”
Coun. Allan Buck supported the application and disagreed with an objecting villager saying Lancashire isn’t a place for tourism.
He said: “Pendle is a hidden jewel for tourism. We have so much going for us. This would really boost the local environment, for example the pubs which have struggled in recent years would have more people coming in. The more people you can get into Pendle on a site like this the better.”
Coun. Haydock said he would do his best to find a satisfactory conclusion to the planning argument by working with the developers and landowners in their discussions with Pendle Council’s planning manager.
He said: “Salterforth is a beautiful village and we want people to come and enjoy it.
“The plan is seen by a lot of people as a benefit to the village if the traffic problems can be sorted and as long as there is no pollution to the spring water.
“I simply wanted the decision deferring for a couple of weeks so we can consult with the developers and farmers to explain what all this was about and to see if any alternative could be offered.
“All I’m interested in is Salterforth continuing to work as a happy, contented village. It is a tourist attraction, with a beautiful park and playground for children. There are lots of lovely walks in the area and a canal-side pub.
“We just don’t want havoc and devastation wreaked on this village by planners who don’t live here.”
Principle planning officer Kathryn Hughes said: “The committee agreed to give the power to the planning manager, subject to meetings with the landowners and the developers, to decide what the improvements should be.
“If the matter cannot be resolved then it would go back to the West Craven Committee.”
Read what other residents have to say in today’s Barnoldswick & Earby Times.