As controversial plans for a mixed industrial estate on the Longridge outskirts are finally lodged, a leading councillor is asking residents if they want to see the town become a dormitory one.
For without much needed industrial - business land, Coun Jim Rogerson fears this could be the case.
The councillor’s comments come as outline plans for offices, general industry and storage or distribution, together with associated access, car parking, landscaping and services infrastructure on land south of Blackburn Road at Hothersall have been submitted by the company BKW Developments Ltd, to Ribble Valley Council.
The plans are already being fiercely contested by an action group calling itself ‘No Industrial Site for Hothersall’.
In a letter to this week’s Longridge News, Coun Rogerson says he makes “no bones of the fact” that in his 22 years as a councillor he has “always argued that Longridge needs more commercial/employment land”.
He says he is concerned Longridge “has lost so many local employment sites-jobs and with all the extra housing going up, the area needs jobs for local people, especially the younger generation...The cost alone of public transport to areas of work if they can find employment makes it not worth their while bothering.”
Coun Rogerson explained: “Last year two sites were put forward by Ribble Valley Council officers as potential employment sites for Longridge in the consultation document which went to consultation for six weeks last August.
“One of these was mixed used on the Monks/Forshaw site (which has now been granted planning permission for housing), the other was part of the BKW proposal site which has now been put forward as a planning application.”
As far as he is aware, Coun Rogerson says Ribble Valley has never proposed any industrial land for Longridge, except for the former tip site on Chapel Hill, behind the household waste disposal site.
He asks residents: “Do you want Longridge to become a dormitory town? The outlying areas will be even worse. Or do you want a more sustainable community with local employment prospects?”
Coun Rogerson says he knows of a local business employing local people that is looking for a site of similar size to the full area now proposed at the Hothersall site and an existing business wants their existing site to expand.
“How many empty commercial-workshop premises do we have in the area? Very few if any. It is like stepping into dead man’s shoes,” said Coun Rogerson,
concluding: “It is very easy for the more established members of society to say we don’t need this we are alright as we are, but the council (and my view also) has to look at all sections of society. We have to look after the young and old alike.”
BKW’s plans also include proposals for an alternative access route and pupil transport pick-up - drop-off point and waiting area for neighbouring Hillside Specialist School and College.
The company states it is aiming to provide “an appropriate commercial development, suited to meeting the full range of local employment needs and job creation over the next 10 years in Longridge and the surrounding part of Ribble Valley” on a site they consider to be “a sustainable location on the eastern approach to Longridge”.
BKW is proposing a layout comprising up to nine buildings of various sizes, for office, research and light-industrial use (Class B1), general industrial use (Class B2) and/or storage (Class B8) within the existing field boundaries which, they say allows spaces around the outside of the development to be planted to provide screening. The buildings would be low rise, designed and finished in suitable materials and colours to limit and mitigate their appearance in the landscape, and to have the appearance of agricultural buildings.
The vehicular access to the site will be from Blackburn Road where there is an existing agricultural access and field gate.
All comments on the application need to be with the council by May 11 and the action group, whichwas due to meet last night, will be attending various forthcoming council meetings.