Residents to vote in referendum on Cuerdale Garden Village plan in South Ribble

A small village in South Ribble is holding a referendum over plans to build a major new development on its doorstep.

By Paul Faulkner
Saturday, 2nd April 2022, 12:02 pm

Samlesbury and Cuerdale Parish Council has called the poll in order to gauge residents’ feelings about a 1,300-home garden village that has been proposed for the area.

The scheme - which has been put forward by Story Homes on greenbelt land immediately to the east of the M6 - would also include a primary school, leisure facilities, a local shopping centre and employment space.

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Jasmine Gleave and Nick Buckley, chair and vice chair of the Save Samlesbury Action Group (image: Tim Waterworth)

Locals will get to have their say in a non-binding vote taking place on Thursday 7th April, in which they will be asked the question: “Do you oppose the Story Homes/Cuerdale Garden Village development?”

People will be able to vote in person, between 4pm and 9pm, at the Samlesbury War Memorial Hall on Cuerdale Lane. Postal and proxy votes are not available.

Although the outcome will not directly determine whether or not permission is ultimately granted for the development, parish council chair Graham Young is encouraging the 982 eligible voters in the area to take part in the poll - which he believes to be the first of its kind ever held in Lancashire, under legislation introduced 50 years ago.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that if his own canvassing is anything to go by, he has got a pretty good idea what the result will be.

Part of the sprawling 172-hectare plot in Samlesbury eyed by a developer for a garden village

“So far, everybody - to a man and a lady - has said that they are going to vote against it. There is nobody against development on brownfield sites or small developments - because you need to keep an area fresh.

“But if you use the national statistic of there being 2.4 people per household, then straight away you have tripled the size of our parish.

“Part of our parish plan, which we rewrote just last year, is to maintain the greenbelt. This is 407 acres of greenbelt just in the first phase, so we are opposed to it in every degree,” Cllr Young said.

The initial phase of the Cuerdale Garden Village would straddle the A59, Preston New Road, with most of the construction taking place on the south side of the dual carriageway, which leads to junction 31 of the motorway at the Tickled Trout roundabout. A standalone plot to the north east of the Samlesbury Hotel has also been identified as part of the plans.

The proposed Cuerdale Garden Village would lie either side of the A59, Preston New Road, near junction 31 of the M6

Story Homes has laid out the potential for a further 1,400 properties to be created – along with other facilities – largely to the north of the A59.

Jasmine Gleave, chair of the newly-formed Save Samlesbury Action Group, says locals are not interested in “shaping” the plans - but instead want them scrapped.

“The place would be unrealisable. They can call it all the pretty names they like, but it is [a case of] plonking a town on top of a tiny rural village.

“It’s a takeover - it would totally change the entire visual amenity of the area and I don’t really think there are words for it.

“Quality farmland would be lost at what is a crucial time, with the government talking about sustainability of food protection and low food miles

“There are countless brownfield sites across the borough, which should always be used before greenbelt.

“People have chosen to live in a quiet, tranquil place - and they are taking away your choice about the type of place you want to live.

“It’s touted as a positive that we are close to the motorway, but that means we are like lambs to the slaughter with through traffic. That is only going to be compounded by this type of development - it would be gridlock on these tiny rural roads,” added Jasmine.

Ahead of a public consultation staged by Story Homes in February, the firm estimated that the garden village would lead to the creation of 3,100 new jobs. Although details of the types of businesses to be accommodated on the site will not emerge until later in the planning process, the manufacturing, distribution and research and development sectors are likely to feature heavily.

Responding to news of the referendum, John Winstanley, Story Homes’ managing director for strategic land, said: “We have undertaken extensive consultation on our plans for Cuerdale Garden Village, which sustainably responds to the strategic growth opportunity provided by the forthcoming National Cyber Force Campus.

“I want to reassure the local community that we are committed to engaging and working with local people and stakeholders as our plans progress. I encourage those intending to vote to visit our website, cuerdalegardenvillage.co.uk, to ensure their vote is informed."

The greenbelt status of the land means that the developer would have to demonstrate “very special circumstances” in order to secure permission for the proposal.

Any planning application for the garden village will be decided by South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee.

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