An inquiry into a proposed development of nearly 200 homes in Bamber Bridge has heard it would be “ridiculous” to suggest that the scheme would not have an impact on road safety.
Several dozen residents from the Brindle Road area of the town witnessed the opening session of the inquiry into an application by Bellway Homes to build on land currently occupied by Grey Gables Farm.
The proposal was rejected by South Ribble Borough Council’s cross-party planning committee earlier this year.
Matthew Lennie, a local resident, told day one of the hearing: “The road cannot handle additional traffic. I know that - as a father who pushes a pram down the road and as a cyclist who rides along it.”
Referring to a plan modify road markings in the area of a nearby level crossing to prevent dangerous overtaking, Mr Lennie added: “No amount of paintwork will make any difference. When the [level crossing] barriers are down and traffic backs up, it’s horrendous.”
Several members of the Brindle Road Action Group (BRAG), also made plain their objections - including concerns about the amount of green space to be provided on the site. Bellway Homes has committed to a hectare of open space - more than is required under local guidelines.
But some of it will be close to the site’s boundary with the M61 motorway.
“Who in their right mind would wish to see their children play only feet from the motorway?” BRAG member Matthew Jones asked.
“It’s not hard to see a misdirected football or frisbee ending up on the carriageway,” he added.
Fellow resident Elliott Stiling told the hearing that locals were not opposed to any development in the proposed location, but wanted it to be “respectful of what is a semi-rural area”.
Members of South Ribble’s planning committee who had voted against the original application also gave evidence. Former committee chair Barrie Yates was quizzed over his objection to potential noise levels affecting the site from the nearby motorway.
Cllr Yates said World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and “British standards” showed levels in excess of 55 decibels cause “serious annoyance”. Around half a dozen of the plots on the proposed site would be exposed to noise above that level.
But representing, Bellway Homes, David Manley QC told him that the amount by which the levels would be exceeded was “less than the change [in noise] which is detectable by the human ear”.
Mr. Manley added that the WHO acknowledges that its guidelines might “not always be achievable in all areas where development is desirable” - noting that the site under discussion could only be classed as desirable, because the council had already earmarked it for housing.
Maintaining that even a slight difference in decibel level makes a difference, Cllr Yates replied: “If I was selling you something for £55,000 and suddenly told you that you had to pay £56,000, I think you would have something to say about it.”
Another planning committee member, Michael Nelson told the hearing that air pollution would also be a problem for residents on the new estate. He complained that Bellway Homes had not undertaken its own monitoring on the site, instead relying on the council’s own testing on nearby roads.
But Mr. Manley said that “predicted” air pollution levels for the development were significantly below legal maximums as used throughout Europe.
Attention then turned to whether South Ribble Borough Council could meet required targets to supply 5 years’ worth of new housing in the borough if the Bellway appeal were refused.
Earlier, in opening submissions, Ian Ponter, representing the authority, said: “There is harm and policy conflict [in the application] which justifies dismissal of the appeal.
“Even if [housing] supply falls short, there would be no justification for allowing the appeal,” Mr. Ponter added.
The inquiry continues on Wednesday and is expected to last until the end of the week.