VILLAGERS opposed to a new housing development in Salterforth have made a last-ditch attempt to save a vital car park and improve road safety.
Plans for 51 homes to be built on the site of the former Silentnight showroom off Kelbrook Road came before a special West Craven Committee meeting after Pendle Council’s planning officers had recommended the scheme for approval.
Around 60 residents attended, with most of their objections centering on plans to reduce the size of a car park on the site, which has been open for many years, to just 20 spaces, and concerns over road safety.
Jeff Haydock, chairman of Salterforth Community Action Group, said: “I feel that this is a raping and pillaging of our lovely village and I am concerned about the devastation that will be caused. What the developers have proposed for the car park is totally inadequate. The new houses need to have parking for about 150, not 92, to take into account that people have second cars and visitors.
“This council should say to the developers that we don’t want the planning gains money; we want them to hand the car park over to the parish council and let them maintain it.”
Pendle Council’s planning manager Neil Watson reiterated that the site car park was only open to villagers as a gesture of goodwill from the previous land-owners, and that it could be closed at any time by the developers.
Resident David Metcalfe called on the committee to defer a decision until more details had been provided on how road safety would be ensured with the extra traffic on already narrow and congested village roads.
He said: “Parents do not trust to let their children walk to and from school because it is unsafe to cross the road. As councillors you can safeguard the safety of the general public. If you fail to address our concerns the next accident or death will lie heavily on your shoulders, knowing you were once in a position to prevent it.”
Another concerned resident Peter King said: “I am a governor at the primary school and one of the biggest problems the school has had is a lack of car parking. I understand there are no rights on the car park but without it the village will be a much worse place to live.”
Speaking for the applicant Seddon Homes, Roberta Cameron from Walshingham Planning said: “Benefits to the village as well as the 20-space car park include landscaped open spaces and a contribution to improvements of open spaces, bus stops and environmental and renewable technology.
“We recognise the concerns of residents but the scheme has been carefully designed. We appreciate it will mean a certain amount of change but a derelict site will not benefit the village.”
Coun. David Whipp said: “My view is this development looks like a bit of suburbia plonked down in Salterforth and I don’t think it is appropriate.”
He suggested villagers look into whether it would be possible to designate the car park as a Town Green, due to it being used as a children’s play area for many years. He proposed, and councillors agreed, that a decision be deferred until more negotiations could take place between planning officers and the developers over the parking and highways issues.