Councillors have deferred a decision on a controversial proposal to build 360 houses on a green field site.
Members of Pendle Council’s Colne and District Committee had been recommended to approve two separate applications by Guernsey-based site owner Junction Property Ltd for the developments off Windermere Avenue, Colne, on land known locally as “The Rough”.
But, at a meeting held in the Muni on Wednesday night, attended by several hundred people campaigning against the plans, Conservative councillors said they wanted more information on certain aspects of the scheme before they could come to a decision.
Like the Liberal Democrats on the committee, they were minded to refuse permission – but with the likelihood the applicants would appeal against the refusal, they said they wanted to create as watertight a case as possible before reaching their decision.
In a debate lasting over an hour and a half, several protestors spoke against the plans, citing traffic, ecological and environmental problems as some of the reasons for their objections.
The Conservative and Labour candidates at next month’s General Election, Andrew Stephenson and Azhar Ali, were in attendance and spoke in support of the protestors.
Opening the debate after hearing from the protestors, Coun. Joe Cooney said there were a lot more questions than answers arising from the application.
“We have to make a decision on your behalf and the worst thing we can do is rush in and do something that causes complications further down the line,” he said.
“This is not the end of the story. It is just the start. What we need is our officers to gather all the relevant information so we can make a proper decision. If we rush through things we will be dfoing you a disservice.”
He moved that the matter be deferred, but Coun. Tony Greaves recommended an immediate refusal.
He said the idea of 300 new houses being built in Pendle every year, as has been suggested, was “Alice in Wonderland stuff” and described a travel plan submitted by the applicants to deal with the extra traffic the development would bring as “baloney”.
Coun. Paul White said if the development went ahead, it could lead to as many as 1,440 car journeys a day through Colne on roads that were already heavily congested.
For the applicants, Mr David Coursier said he was impressed by the forceful nature of the objections but added Pendle was not delivering enough new housing to meet the needs which had been identified by the council. In answer to a question from Coun. Greaves, he said if permission was granted, it would take around seven years to build the houses.
The matter will go before the first meeting of the new Colne and District Committee in May.