The fight to ‘Save Longridge’

Save Longridge's detailed map of the ring of developments around the town showing proposed developments reaching a total high of 2,546 properties.
Save Longridge's detailed map of the ring of developments around the town showing proposed developments reaching a total high of 2,546 properties.

Banners and posters highlighting the fight to stop Longridge being “swamped” by more than 2,500 new homes are to go up around the town.

The “Save Longridge” campaigners say they are now on red alert after mapping sites surrounding the town earmarked by six 
national development companies, plus two others, with potential for a total of 2,546 more houses.

And they are to set up a fighting fund to finance 
activities – having previously relied on support from group members and supporters to cover costs – and to engage a planning consultant “to fight our corner”.

“If we secured just £1 from every home in Longridge we’d be off to a fantastic start,” said spokesman Jeff Seel.

“Longridge is under attack from these hordes of developers.

“As our map shows, we are being surrounded by money-hungry firms who seem to have little or no regard for the effect that they are having on our peaceful and beautiful rural community.

“We are all aware of central government’s directives on housing needs for the whole of the country, and we acknowledge that Longridge and the rest of Ribble Valley have an obligation to meet those directives.

“However, the wholesale mass developments proposed by big guns such as Taylor Wimpey, Barratt’s and the like bear little or no 
resemblance to actual requirements.

“If the developers have their way, we will have large scale housing estates full of four and five bedroomed homes of which there are already an abundance in this area.”

The group met the town council for the first time at its meeting last week, with Mr Seel being given time to state the many concerns raised by campaigners.

Agreed areas of concern were the impact of large scale housing developments on schools, GP surgeries, roads, leisure activities and other services, including ones for emergencies, drains and sewer systems.

These were issues on all the earmarked sites, councillors stated.

When completed, the Longridge Neighbourhood Plan would be looking at the overall impact on these, and the Ribble Valley Core Strategy would, once the inspector’s queries were clarified, also have an influence.

Council chairman Coun Chris Parkinson welcomed the input from Mr Seel and written comments from group member Andy Rawlinson. He said: “I don’t think there are any differences between Save Longridge and the council (on this subject).

“We look forward to getting everything together backed by the Neighbourhood Plan, which is going to be a good, solid document.”

In a further statement from Save Longridge, more information and concerns are highlighted about the proposed developments.

The group sees the requirement in Longridge, as borne out by the results of a survey carried out by Ribble Valley Borough Council in February 2013. This showed the need was for small developments of one to three bedroomed affordable homes, apartments for the young and sheltered accommodation and bungalows for the elderly.

When this survey was commissioned, a total of 3,408 forms were issued to local households.

Of these, only 424 were returned and only 43 respondents stated that they would be looking for future accommodation in Longridge within the next five years.

In the words of the borough itself, as noted within that survey, “the lack of response could be an acceptable indicator of the needs and the attitude within the town.”

Mr Seel posed the question: “We must ask ourselves, who is going to buy all these four and five bedroomed homes?

“It is not local residents in Longridge.

“It is not the children of Longridge residents.

“It is not the elderly who are looking to downsize to find something more easy to live in and maintain.

“It will be people from outside the area who want to commute to their place of work each day, and come home each night, using roads that are already overburdened.

“In essence, turning Longridge into a dormitory town.

“Or even worse, it will be people without jobs being subsidised to live in a nicer area and bringing that area down and the value of our homes along with it.”

There was no mention by developers of sustainability or creating long term jobs for people living in Longridge, he pointed out.

When asked what was being done about sewers and drains already under severe strain, schools, hospitals, doctors and dentists, the answer was nothing, he told the meeting.

“In summary, to meet central government objectives, we are led to believe that we need an additional 600 or so dwellings in and around Longridge between now and 2028,” said Mr Seel.

“If the developers have their way they are looking at applications for in excess of 1,700 houses to be built, starting now.

“We at Save Longridge need every resident in Longridge to join our campaign to fight against these large scale developments and urge the powers that be, to stick with their original proposals and objectives.

“Please contact us to find out more about our campaign and help keep Longridge green and beautiful.”