Cries of “shame on you” and “shambles” from the public gallery greeted Pendle Council’s decision to adopt its Core Strategy which will guide future development in the borough.
But Pendle Council Leader Coun. Mohammed Iqbal said he was not prepared to “lead residents down the garden path” by attempting to remove the most controversial aspect, Trough Laithe at Barrowford, at the 11th hour.
It is the only strategic housing site included within part one of the strategy.
Between 30 and 40 protesters were expected at the meeting of Full Council at Nelson Town Hall desperate to hear that the inclusion of Trough Laithe, a greenfield site in Barrowford where 500 homes are planned, would be removed.
However, they departed disappointed as the ruling Labour and Liberal Democrat group voted to adopt it. All but one of the Conservative Party councillors, Coun. James Starkie, voted to reject it.
Coun. Iqbal said the inclusion of Trough Laithe and the planned expansion of the Lomeshaye Industrial estate had quite clearly been deemed “correct decisions” by the inspector.
He said it was a Conservative decision to include Trough Laithe in the strategy, and although of no comfort to the people of Barrowford, he said he had no other option but to adopt it and Pendle Council had followed the process.
On the Lomeshaye expansion, Coun. Iqbal said businesses were “queueing up” for space on the estate, which had the prospect of creating 2,000 jobs.
Coun. Bob Allen, who seconded Coun. Iqbal’s motion to adopt the strategy, acknowledged it would be “unpopular” but future raising of rates through the developments would help “secure revenue for much needed services”.
Coun. Allen said it would be “really unlikely” Pendle would need 4,600 homes by 2030 but warned of a “planning free for all” if it was not adopted.
He also turned on the “silence” of Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson MP on the issue and criticised his lack of lobbying at higher levels. He said: “I wonder when he is going to stand up for Pendle and the people he represents.”
Coun. Linda Crossley said she was “not proud” she was one of the Conservatives to include Trough Laithe in the Core Strategy originally, and said she would vote against adoption.
She questioned the effect 500 homes would have on flooding, traffic and services and said: “The more I hear about this development, the more I am against it.”
Coun. Christian Wakeford said the document had “several failings”.
He said its benefit to Pendle was “debatable” and councillors, Barrowford Parish Council and residents didn’t think it would be of any benefit to the village, adding he could not ignore local views.
Coun. Sarah Cockburn-Price said she could no longer vote to adopt it.
She said “subtle” modifications to the strategy’s content from 12 months ago had resulted in “fundamental changes” to its meaning, notably that it no longer included empty homes being brought back into use nor the “1,000 or so planning permissions already granted”.
Coun. Tony Greaves said with current plan expiring in March 2016 and it being “abundantly clear” the government would write a Core Strategy for the council should it not be adopted, he had no choice but to vote for it.
He said: “We have to accept the world we are in, the real world.
“Any councillors who don’t move to adopt the core strategy are in Alice in Wonderland world.
“We are trapped in it but we haven’t got a rabbit hole, a wardrobe or a looking glass to get out of it. We are not the masters of our own destiny.
“I wish I could kick it out. The planning system in this country is bust. Localism is a joke, it fails to represent local people.”