‘’SimplyClitheroe_KenHind (1)

Article below  courtesy of Simply Clitheroe magazine

Enough Is Enough

Ribble Valley is one of the best  places to live according to the Sunday Times, one of the top 100 in the country. Dominated by the brooding  magnificence of Pendle, it is however in danger of losing its character unless action is taken to prevent the incessant march of  house builders who are re-framing the character of the area, its heritage, rural character and environment.

Today the Ribble Valley Borough Council is asking the views of the public in a consultation  on economic needs and housing  so residents  should see this a great opportunity. A government formula suggests  that Ribble Valley could  reduce the minimum  number of homes built  per year from  280 to 148, (but allowing for economic growth it probably needs to be slightly  higher). A reduction  is vitally necessary. It reflects the views of many local residents who  complain about the  excessive numbers of homes being built, without enough accompanying  significant infrastructure improvements. They cry ‘’Enough is enough’’.

The draft assessment can be viewed at Evidence Updates 2019 onwards or the Ribble Valley Borough Council Offices in Church Walk, Clitheroe, from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. It can also be viewed at Clitheroe, Longridge and Mellor libraries, and the Longridge Old Station Buildings.

Comments should be emailed to planning.policy@ribblevalley.gov.uk or posted to SHENA Consultation, Forward Planning Team, Ribble Valley Borough Council Offices, Church Walk, Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 2RA.

The deadline for responses is 5pm on Monday 18 November, and further details are available from Ribble Valley Borough Council’s forward planning team on 01200 425111.

When  considering housing in the  Ribble Valley: its town centres, heritage, rural character and tourism, all have to be given  high priority. In order to protect our high streets  this means rejection of out of town shopping centres. The proper renovation of the Clitheroe market area is  essential if  Clitheroe  town centre around King Street  is not to decline.

Holmes Mill in Clitheroe is a good example of linking heritage and enterprise together  to create jobs and improve town centre facilities. The mill is the most important new development in the Ribble Valley for 30 years. It has been converted  to a brewery, hotel, bars, cafes, restaurants , shops, offices, a 4 screen cinema and  performance venue. This  shows what can be done when heritage and enterprise work together in the interests of the community. Children today can  go to the Engine Room Restaurant and see for themselves machinery that drove this once great manufacturing mill. Recommended for rejection by planning officers, councillors saw the importance of such a development and granted planning consent. In the future we need to be more heritage conscious and less risk averse. Holmes Mill is improving the economy of the surrounding part of Clitheroe.

The Romans left their rich legacy in Ribchester, which was followed  by the Normans medieval  castle in Clitheroe  and Abbeys in Whalley and  Sawley. In  the industrial revolution the streams and watercourses of the Ribble Valley attracted cotton mills in Sabden, Longridge, Clitheroe and elsewhere.

Let us exploit the  strengths of our  heritage with the magnificent  countryside and  link  both to  tourism, which is one of the most  important industries in Ribble Valley, employing over 3500 with nearly  6000 hospitality beds. We need to develop a Heritage and Tourist Trail starting in Longridge at the old station closed to passengers  in 1930, now converted into a heritage centre, community hub, town council headquarters and café and then moving back in history, eventually finishing in Roman Ribchester.

Part of this heritage trail should  include the 3 medieval wells in Clitheroe, a unique feature amongst northern market towns. The ownership of 2 of them, is unclaimed but all the historical data points to them being the property of the predecessor authorities of the  Ribble Valley Borough Council and therefore the council still owns them. By claiming the wells, RVBC together with the Civic Society can make them a  feature for visitors and the community alike.

The green areas between new housing estates have  to be preserved and included in a planning overview of the Borough. Playing fields and parks such as  the recreation ground in Longridge, Castle Field in Clitheroe and sports grounds in Ribchester have  legal protection provided by the  Fields in Trust organisation , so future generations will be able to enjoy them in perpetuity, guaranteed free from  development. Many other green areas  should be similarly protected.

Large housing developments  should always include green spaces so projects like the Primrose Community Nature Trust can be created. In the grounds of the  old Primrose Mill in Clitheroe, the Trust is  renovating the water courses, pools, and dams as well as  building a huge fish ladder, providing paths for the public to enjoy. This project is  preserving wild-life and bringing the country into the town; a phoenix rising from the ashes of dilapidation.

Governments are rightly obsessed with building new homes for an increased population, but they must  learn that this comes with a  need for infrastructure, roads, schools, parks, recreational facilities  medical facilities and job creation measures, which should be planned at the same time as housing. Whitehall  needs to see one size does not fit all communities. Greater say should be given to local councils and residents. Part of this process, as achieved in  Longridge, should be to  develop  ‘’Neighbourhood  Plans’’, led by  Parish and Town Councils, allowing local communities particularly in our rural villages ownership in their future.

With  this consultation the Ribble Valley has the chance to  frame its future and preserve its rural character. Once the area  is changed it’s character  will be lost for ever, never to return. Ribble Valley residents should seize the moment to direct our Valley’s  future and tell our elected representatives what they want.

Ken Hind CBE

Trustee Primrose Community Nature Trust

Former Leader Ribble Valley Borough Council.