LETTER: Positive planning involves active preservation of countryside

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Mr Pendle’s “Telling it Straight”’ (September 23rd) was spot on about two very important issues for us all.

Firstly, the Parliamentary Boundary Commission’s proposal for 2015 which, for Pendle, would bring in North Burnley and dump West Craven into the Ribble Valley. This is, as our MP says, “daft” and Lord Greaves agrees. Robert Oliver (no relative) of Pendle CLP confirms the practical difficulties were foreseen but ignored and orderly preparation for a General Election in May, 2015, now becomes unrealistically impracticable.

Pendle must surely be a microcosm of what is now facing most constituencies in the country, namely a debilitating loss of coherence between many constituencies and their corresponding local authority boundaries. This can only lead to less effective national representation and MP/local authority liaison. The initial idea held promise, i.e. 60 less MPs. The nitty gritty now seems to reveal an endless minefield we must do without.

West Craven is a particularly tragic case. Forcibly amputated from its ancient Craven roots not all that long ago, should some Government servants almost certainly woefully ignorant of most aspects of life north of Watford, be allowed to treat Barnoldswick, Earby and environs yet again like some unimportant scrag end? If it can be clearly established that local community is happy to be Ribble Valleyised, then fine. Otherwise it must be vetoed.

Mr Pendle’s second issue is proposed planning law changes which appear to drastically undermine, at first glance, much of the good work done by Pendle Council in the last 36 years in facilitating what new housing Pendle needed, yet preserving our most precious green spaces for the benefit of everyone. The draft National Planning Policy Framework reduces over 1,300 pages of policy down to 52 and makes a key presumption in favour of development.

Digging into planning history, I found that ever since 1946 when the Government was faced with Hitler’s devastation of our cities, planning law has been based on the principle that planning permission should be granted unless there is a sound and clear cut reason for refusal.

But positive planning includes active preservation of the countryside.

What Pendle Council has achieved appears admirably to mirror this 65-year national policy. The notion that opportunist developers will now be let loose widely to undermine what has been carefully nurtured over that timespan would be daft. Look at the “for sale” signs at all property levels in Pendle right now. The broad answer is that we do not need new houses. Look at the current protection given to the Lidgett Triangle and land continuing across to Castle Road. It is there for all of us to enjoy. Look at the conservation area embodied there. It is a glorious snapshot in time including the unspoilt open space which is the Lidgett Triangle. All this helps to make Colne and Pendle a better place to live in. The positive hard work of our planning staff over the last four years must not be allowed to be undermined.

OWEN OLIVER

Bents, Colne