Council insists it is prioritising brownfield sites for houses

Pendle Council says it will prioritise building on brownfield sites
Pendle Council says it will prioritise building on brownfield sites

A political row has broken out over the use of a fund set up to promote building on brownfield sites in Pendle.

Conservatives in the borough accused the Labour-run council of not utilising a £1.5m. Brownfield Fund it set up in early 2015.

Tory leader Coun. Joe Cooney had said that just £50,000 had been used so far, resulting in the building of just five houses in two years.

However, Pendle Council has since disputed that figure and said that £500,000 has been committed which will result in nearly 40 houses being built.

Work has now started on the Oak Mill site in Colne and on much needed employment units at the Reedyford Mill site in Nelson.

These schemes will lead to private sector investment of £7.6m., 56,000 sq. ft of extra employment floor space and around 100 new jobs.

Coun. Mohammed Iqbal, leader of Pendle Council, said: “It’s important that we spend the £1.5m. Brownfield Sites Fund carefully to ensure it will make a real difference.

“We’re working closely with prospective developers on a site by site basis to fully understand their obstacles to try to help them overcome them.”

The Tories had accused Pendle Council leaders of “selling off greenfield sites” in the borough including land off Red Lane, Colne, which currently has a planning application for 55 houses.

Coun. Cooney called it “a dereliction of duty” and said more must be done to protect greenfield.

But the Labour administration said there were a number of reasons why brownfield sites can be difficult to develop, ranging from demolition costs, treating contamination, to being unable to gain the necessary finance.

Coun. Iqbal added: “We’ve been cautiously spending the money because for some time we’ve been waiting for clarification from the government and the Homes and Communities Agency on aspects of its Housing Infrastructure Fund.

“It’s not yet clear what we can bid for and it may be that some of the unallocated Brownfield Sites Funding will need to be redirected to provide match funding for a Pendle bid.”

The Housing Infrastructure Fund is a government capital grant programme of up to £2.3 billion which will help to deliver up to 100,000 new homes in England.

Meanwhile, Pendle Council has resubmitted plans to build at Further Clough Head in Nelson, with a deadline for comments of September 11th.

Members of the public have raised objections to the plans for the site which is well used by wildlife, and has only one access road.

The plans can be viewed at https://publicaccess.pendle.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=OU5FI5MIHO400.