Plans threaten heritage area

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Part of the conservation area in one of the oldest areas of Longridge has been approved for 21 houses in a 52-property development.

Now furious residents near United Utilities’ Chapel Hill site, which includes some of the ancient 
St Lawrence Church’s conservation area, say building on it would mean the loss of a major heritage asset.

After 14 householders met on Monday, spokesman Dennis Langley told the News that, even though they were barred from appealing the decision, they would mount the strongest possible challenge to what they see as Ribble Valley borough council’s total lack of debate on their objections.

They accuse the planning committee of no in-depth debate at its July meeting on the 32 objections raised in 27 letters sent to the borough, and neither were concerns dealt with in officers’ reports.

Resident Dennis Langley said: “The overall impression of the debate was that it was superficial, and did not explore any of the planning issues my neighbour Mr Smith raised in his three-minute address. 

“The meeting did not address the concerns of Longridge Town Council, despite there being three representatives present. Why did they allow Mr Smith to speak for three minutes and then choose to ignore what he said? 

“This is a significant point and had there been a debate, it may well have swayed opinion.

“And what’s the purpose of allowing the public to raise legitimate objections, carefully researched against planning policy guidelines and regulations and properly presented, when these are almost completely ignored?”

He stressed that the National Planning Policy Framework was very supportive in protecting designated heritage sites and their settings, but that the borough council had not even accepted the objections of its own conservation officer, who stated that the United Utilities plans would cause undue harm to St Lawrence’s designated area.

Mr Langley is to forward the group’s concerns to the Secretary of State for his comments.

He added “I intend taking this matter forward with the appropriate authorities to make sure they are aware that our collective objections were ignored.”