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

Update on Forum activities – November 2021

Rossendale Draft Local Plan

Following the provisional acceptance by the Inspectors that Green Belt land can be released for development we met with our MP, Jake Berry, in late August. Jake then wrote to both the Secretary of State for Housing and the Inspectors  expressing his concern that Green Belt land was being allocated for development despite government regulations that Green Belt land should not be built on if there is sufficient non-Green Belt land available. Both letters were acknowledged but without a constructive response.

In view of this and recent comments from Boris Johnson and Michael Gove that Green Belt should not be built on and brownfield development should be prioritised we met with Jake again in October. Jake confirmed his full support and belief in the challenges we have submitted and said that he would do all in his power to prevent development on Green Belt land in Rossendale. He has now made a a direct request to Michael Gove as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities to “call in” the Plan. If the Secretary of State agrees that the Plan conflicts with national policy he is able to call it in which means that he will appoint an Inspector to carry out an Inquiry.

In September the Council published their Main Modifications to the draft Local Plan which, not surprisingly following the Inspectors’ comments, did not make any changes to the proposed building of 456 houses in Edenfield. There followed a six week consultation period during which we submitted detailed representations supporting our case. Later in October the Council published all the representations they had received. The Main Modifications and all the representations made can be accessed through the Local Examination page of the Council website in Examination library 12:

Examination Library 12 – Consultation on Proposed Main Modifications to the Local Plan | Rossendale Borough Council

The representations include some interesting and positive comments including:

  – Turley on behalf of Peel (EL12.012e – from page 1253). They say parts of the Plan are unsound including the H62 (formerly H72) allocation which is the 400 houses on the land west of Market Street. Peel are one of the three promoters of this site. They say that H62 “has not been proven to be developable at this point owing to significant uncertainties around the practical delivery and viability of the highway mitigation which is now acknowledged by policy H62 as being needed to deliver the allocation”. They have even commissioned a report by traffic consultants which throws doubt on whether the problems are capable of being resolved.

– National Highways (previously Highways England) (EL12.012a) are still insisting on a geotechnical survey on H62.

– Rossendale Civic Trust (EL12.012a page 213) argue against the loss of views and farmland.

– Roman Summer (EL12.012b,c,d) who are the planning consultants acting for Edenwood Mill have submitted over 500 pages which give great details on the proposals for the site. Initially 47 houses were proposed for the site but this has been increased to 66 by including the adjoining Green Belt land to the north east under Wood Lane.

We have recently discovered that the Inspectors’ final report will be published very soon and also that the Council are proposing to adopt the draft Local Plan at their meeting on 15th December. Once we have seen the Inspectors’ report we will decide on what further action to date. It is extremely disappointing that the Council have given very little time for the public to review the report before such an important meeting. 

Edenfield Neighbourhood Plan

Our work on the Neighbourhood Plan is temporarily paused as we concentrate our efforts on challenging the Draft Local Plan.

Chatterton Hey field

Highways England (now called National Highways) used the field for access when they were doing work on the bypass embankment. That work has now finished but the Methodist Church was able to arrange for HE to put up a gate and fencing to stop unauthorised vehicles. The Church are happy to let pedestrians (and dogs!) continue to use the field.     

Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP)

This Plan is being prepared by Lancashire County Council in partnership with Rossendale Borough Council and Hyndburn Borough Council who would like input from interested parties to help shape the Plan. There is an upcoming public consultation and the Forum has been asked to register an interest which we have now done.

ECNF NewsLetter – August 2019

The Forum’s latest newsletter will be delivered to all homes and businesses in Edenfield in the next few days and is also available to view here : https://edenfieldcommunityforum.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Newsletter-August-2019.pdf .

The newsletter explains more about the work we and our planning advisors are doing to stop the release of village Green Belt land for development. This work centres on preparation for and attendance at the Public Hearings being held by the independent Planning Inspectors as part of their examination of the Council’s Draft Local Plan. The support for our fund raising so far has been excellent for which we are very grateful. However we estimate that we still need about another £7,000 to make sure that we can present the best possible case to the Inspectors at the examination.

Please support our efforts to save our village – details of how you can donate are in the newsletter.

Draft Local plan updated

Rossendale Borough Council submitted their Draft Local Plan to the Planning Inspectorate on 25th March 2019. The submitted Plan did contain some changes from the Regulation 19 Plan but none of these were very significant. The submitted Plan, a copy of the plan showing the changes and other submitted documents can be found on the Council’s website – follow the link:

https://www.rossendale.gov.uk/info/210148/local_plan/10629/emerging_local_plan/3

The Planning Inspectorate will appoint an Inspector who will undertake an independent examination of the Plan which will include an examination in public. Information on the examination including the timing of the public examination can be found by following the link below:

https://www.rossendale.gov.uk/info/210148/local_plan/10629/emerging_local_plan/2

CPRE reports 5000 hectares of Green Belt Land lost in 2017-2018

Yesterday’s Daily Mail published details from a report by the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE). 


According to the report:

  • 10,000 hectares of land have been removed from green belt since 2012
  • 5,000 hectares of land lost green belt protection in 2017/2018
  • Nationally there are plans to build 460,000 homes on green belt land

The CPRE report states that green belt land is the most profitable and desirable for developers due to it being ‘shovel ready’, surrounded by countryside and within commuting distance of major towns and cities.

The CPRE goes on to state that “There is currently enough brownfield land in England to accommodate more than a million homes, with almost three quarters of this in areas with green belt land.” The CPRE urged the Government and local authorities to ensure brownfield land is redeveloped before any more land is released from the green belt.

ECNF shares this opinion and has made this representation to RBC in response to their local plan.

Rossendale’s Local Plan in crisis – Planning officers ask councillors to give them control of the plan to meet looming deadline

If Rossendale Council fail to publish their Local Plan for formal consultation by the end of August, the Government might intervene, warns a report which will be presented to members on Wednesday (11 July).
The Local Plan is a planning blueprint for Rossendale Borough that identifies development needs for the next 15 years and allocates sites. When the first draft emerged last year, it caused uproar in Edenfield, where 808 residents objected to a proposal to remove Green Belt protection from swathes of land.
According to the report, the Government have been regularly contacting the Council to check that the formal consultation version will appear on time. The report therefore recommends that the Councillors hand over to the Planning Manager and the Director of Economic Development in consultation with the Portfolio holder for Regulatory Services the task of making any changes required to rectify errors and improve the draft Plan prior to publication.
The recommendation has alarmed the Edenfield Community Neighbourhood Forum, a group of local residents and businesses established to draw up a neighbourhood plan.

Ian Lord, their Chair, said,

“We have been concerned, ever since the first draft of the Local Plan appeared last year, about the removal of land from the Green Belt. Government guidance is clear: this should happen only in exceptional circumstances. We have repeatedly asked the Council to explain these, but all the report says is that they will be covered in a separate topic paper. However, the Councillors are being requested to sign off the Plan without any information on this crucial aspect.”
“The report to Council this week mentions some minor changes from last year’s draft Local Plan, but the fact is that, on the Council’s own figures, there is an adequate supply of developable housing land in Rossendale for the next 15 years without any recourse to the Green Belt at all.”
“On present information, the draft Local Plan is unsound. It is therefore alarming that the Councillors, who should be owning the process, are being asked to surrender their responsibilities to the officers. Whilst that might solve their immediate problem of meeting their deadline, they are storing up trouble if the Planning Inspectorate later declare it to be unsound.”

ECNF Newsletter – March 2018

Our first newsletter has been printed so if you’re a business or resident in Edenfield, expect it to drop through your letterbox in the next couple of days.

To truly represent the Edenfield community, we need more members. As well as the newsletter we’re also posting membership application forms. Members of the forum can attend meetings and will receive regular information and updates. Members of the forum can also be elected to join the management committee.

Image showing ECNF newsletter
If you can’t wait for your paper newsletter, click the newsletter image to see a PDF version

 

Paper membership forms can be left at Strachan’s Chemist or Valentine’s Butchers. Alternatively you may find it more convenient to complete your details online.  Join Us.