Controversial plans to build hundreds of new homes in Barrowford have been knocked back at the first attempt by councillors – but campaigners fear they will ultimately be built.
The Peel Investments (North) bid to build 500 homes was thrown out by Barrowford and Western Parishes Committee last Thursday, but the application will now be referred to Pendle Council’s development panel.
And as the plans have been included in Pendle’s Core strategy, a rejection at this stage could lead to a costly appeal and be ultimately futile.
The plans have brought a storm of protest, with fears heightened since the devastating Boxing Day floods.
If passed, the 500 homes could be built on green fields stretching up from the Barrowford bypass to Wheatley Lane Road and across to the relatively new Wheatley Springs estate on the edge of Barrowford.
Peel Investments has dubbed the proposal Trough Laithe.
The land and property company says the area has already been singled out as a strategic housing site on the Local Plan in the “emerging Pendle Core Strategy”.
John Endersby, of the Save Trough Laithe Campaign group, has written to Prime Minister David Cameron outlining the group’s concerns.
He said: “An aggressive planning application to build 500 homes, likely to exceed 680 in reality, on 17 hectares of beautiful rural hillside land overlooking our community was rejected unanimously by the local panning committee, signalling clearly the depth of justified objection there is toward this project.
“However, on January 25th, the application goes before Pendle Development Management committee, on which there is not a single councillor representing our village.
“Put simply, the government’s policy is oversimplified, and dangerously flawed.
“We believe there is ample recent evidence of the consequences of unfettered building on sites that have an adverse affect on local land drainage, and the resulting cumulative effects ‘downstream’.
“This policy is setting small communities within boroughs against one another, and is encouraging local authorities to make planning decisions simply to keep government off their backs, without a thought for the consequences for neighbouring communities.”
President of the Pendle Labour party Mark Porter said: “I’m glad that the proposal was rejected by the committee, but sadly I can see it being very difficult to stop it when it goes to the development panel because it has been included in the Core Strategy.
“The council would incur huge costs if it was rejected again and the developers were to appeal it.
“The mistake was made many years ago by the Conservatives who included this piece of land in the Core Strategy.
“It is clear with recent flooding events that extra huge developments will exacerbate problems we already have in Barrowford.
“Anyone who saw the village on or around Boxing Day will have seen how close we came to having serious issues.”
Planners in Pendle assessing every building site in the borough say Trough Laithe could take 481 houses, 8.5% of the total housing needs or 16.7% of the annual need in Pendle.
They base the figure on the site providing a minimum 50 houses a year against a target of 298, meaning that, should development go ahead, building could go on for nearly 10 years before the site is full.