Mr Pendle’s fears over changes to the planning laws could not be more relevant than here in Pendle. If economic growth is to override all other considerations, many more areas than the Lidgett Triangle will be at risk. The entire arc to the north of Colne, from west to east, through Blakey Bottoms and Wanless, across Slipper Hill and the Mile Tunnel valley, would become a prime target for development.
Should that happen, the houses built will not be the sort to meet the chronic need for housing the last Labour Government so wretchedly failed to address. Bland they may be, as he suggests, but they will not be cheap.
The Government’s first line of defence for the changes is to point out that National Parks and areas with similar protection would not be affected. That entirely fails to meet the need we all recognise for intimate green spaces as close as may be to where we live. England may look very green from the air, but that is small consolation if one has to live in the midst of Greater Manchester.
Faced by the protests from the National Trust and others, we are offered the personal reassurance of David Cameron that he cares for our English countryside. That seems to have been enough to bring the National Trust back to the discussion table. I wonder whether its director-general is not too trusting.
We were similarly assured of his affection for the NHS, as we were promised it would suffer no more top-down re-organisations “imposed from Whitehall”. Even the most trusting of his supporters can’t suppose the present one is being imposed from anywhere else!
As David Penney pointed out recently, privatisation is proceeding steadily. Not by the sort of frontal attack that once upset Norman Tebbit (“Abolish the NHS”, the young Conservatives were shouting at Brighton - “Where was our MP then?” we might ask), but by the steady infiltration of private contractors, first in relatively marginal services and then into its central ones. The details are clear enough to anyone who pursues them.
Perhaps, even more than with the NHS, we might hope the partners in the present coalition will exert their influence over the planning changes. One for Lord Greaves perhaps?
Ruskin Avenue, Colne