A sad day for Edenfield

On 15th December Rossendale Council voted in favour of adopting the Rossendale Local Plan. This includes the allocation of 456 houses in Edenfield of which 400 are on Green Belt land west of Market Street.

Green belt land designated by Rossendale Borough Council for building

The Forum together with the Edenfield Village Residents Association has fought against the Edenfield allocation for nearly four years but the Council has consistently ignored our challenges including proposals for alternative (and less painful) methods of meeting the housing requirement. The Inspectors’ report approved the Plan despite the serious infrastructure consequences (particularly on roads and schools) of the proposed 50% increase in housing in Edenfield raised repeatedly by the Forum and others and which are not resolved in the Plan. The intention is to kick the can down the road and hopefully sort these out later!

We have no doubt that, if the Council had submitted an alternative Plan incorporating many of the Forum’s proposals, the Inspectors would have approved that Plan – which would have been better for Rossendale and particularly for Edenfield.

In the end the approval by the Inspectors of the submitted Plan and the fear put about by the Council of what might happen if the Plan was not approved was enough to convince the majority of Councillors to vote for adoption. We thank those councillors who appreciated the alternatives and were brave enough to vote against.

Our MP, Jake Berry, had supported us by requesting the Secretary of State for Housing to call in the Plan which would have meant the Council having to reconsider the Plan and take into account the Forum’s objections. Shortly before the Council meeting we got the news that the Secretary had considered the request but had turned it down. It was not a good day! Our thanks go to Jake for his support.

So, where do we go from here? There is still a lot that needs to happen before any building can start. Developers have to submit detailed planning applications and solutions have to be found (or not!) to the infrastructure issues. There will be opportunities for residents to influence developments and the Edenfield Neighbourhood Plan will be very important in this.

Thank you to all Edenfield residents and others who have supported us over the last four years. We hope you will continue to support the work of the Forum including challenges to developments in Edenfield. If you are an Edenfield resident or work in the village and are not already a member of the Forum you can join by following this link: https://edenfieldcommunityforum.uk/join-us/. There is no cost or obligation.  

PRESS RELEASE – ROSSENDALE LOCAL PLAN

A decision is to be made by the Council on 15th December on whether to adopt the Rossendale Local Plan which includes the building of 400 houses on Green Belt Land in Edenfield. The Forum have challenged this proposal over the last four years and dispute the recently issued Inspectors’ report. We issued a press release early this week which summarised the reasons why development on this Green Belt land is not justified. Unfortunately, some press articles published this week do not include many of these reasons.

See below for the full story

456 homes proposed in Edenfield Green Belt – Council decision imminent

D-day looms for the plan to release Green Belt for housing in Edenfield. The inspectors’ final report, published last week, approves the scheme. Now Rossendale Council expect to adopt their Local Plan on 15th December, more than four years after the controversial proposals emerged.

The council propose 50% growth for the village, compared with 10% growth for the whole borough. Over 1,200 objections were lodged during the public consultation in summer 2018.

Aerial view showing proposed housing developments in North of Edenfield
Proposed development in North of Edenfield

Under the plan 456 homes would be built in the village with 400 on the greenfield site between the A56 bypass and Market Street/Blackburn Road. The council says it is forced to release this site from green belt, as government figures require 3,191 homes by March 2036.

But campaigners dispute that calculation and say green belt is not needed for development at all.   

At every stage Edenfield Community Neighbourhood Forum challenged the disproportionate level of growth and the substantial loss of Green Belt.

Not justified

Forum chair Ian Lord explained, “National planning policy emphasises the permanence of green belt; its boundaries should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified.

“In July 2017 the council proposed 3,795 new homes during 2019-2034.  Revised proposals in August 2018 reduced that to 3,180. The green belt sites should have been removed from the Plan at that stage.

“The plan was submitted in March 2019 but was so poorly prepared that the Inspectors demanded more information which was not finally provided until this year. As more than two years had passed since submission, the local housing need had to be re-calculated. The new figure is 2,775 over 15 years, a reduction of 405 homes, sufficient to remove the large green belt site.

“The council are now extending the plan by two years to 2036. It is also adding the past two years’ housing shortfall to the 15-year target, although the way to address shortfall should be to accelerate delivery in the next five years. We suspect this is an attempt to justify development on Edenfield’s green belt.

Aerial view showing proposed housing developments in South of Edenfield
Proposed development in South of Edenfield

Alternative sites

“The allocated, committed and completed sites can yield 3,209 homes. It is realistic to expect 420 more from small sites and other windfalls, town centre regeneration, and re-purposing sites no longer suitable for employment. In total, sites for over 3,600 homes are available. The housing need can therefore be satisfied without resorting to green belt.

“Additionally, the forum has identified non-green belt sites for up to 2,760 homes that the council has wrongly ruled out.”

Mr. Lord added:The forum recognises the need for housing and doesn’t object to proportionate growth in Edenfield. But green belt is for everyone, not just local residents. It is meant to be permanent. There is simply no justification for destroying it to meet an exaggerated housing requirement.” 

Not suitable

Mr Lord questioned the suitability of the site next to the by-pass; “As well as the green belt there are serious issues around highways infrastructure, education, cultural heritage and land stability, all unresolved.

“The forum’s transport consultants are concerned about local road capacity and problematic site access. Access on Market Street is proposed, but any alteration to layout is likely to affect residents who rely on street parking. The council just says there will be a transport assessment of the Blackburn Road/Market Street corridor.

“The report skates over the difficulties. Even the agents for Peel L&P, one of the site promoters, now say its allocation is unsound for want of evidence that a highway mitigation scheme is achievable and affordable. The can has been kicked down the road for this and other matters such as how many extra primary school places will be provided, how the setting of the parish church, a grade II* – listed building with parts dating back to 1614, will be enhanced and whether difficult ground conditions prejudice the viability of development. These are all crucial issues, which we raised and which the examination should have fully explored.

“We are dismayed that our arguments have simply not been addressed but we hope that at this late stage the council will see reason and protect the green belt.  Otherwise the plan could be challenged in court and set aside as not being sound,” concluded Mr Lord.

6th December 2021