Around 20 vehicles travelled in small groups down the A59 Preston New Road, towards the roundabout at junction 31 of the M6, at 8am. They then headed back in the opposite direction and switched to local roads, including Cuerdale Lane.
Local farmers led the demonstration in a show of solidarity with the Save Samlesbury Action Group, which was formed earlier this year with the aim of opposing plans for 1,300 new homes on greenbelt land to the east of the motorway.
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Story Homes - the developer behind the blueprint for the Cuerdale Garden Village - submitted a planning application to South Ribble Borough Council, seeking permission for the scheme, last month.
The action group wanted to raise the profile of their campaign and promote a public meeting being held on Friday (8th July).
Although not intended as a ‘go slow’, Lancashire Post cameras captured some hold-ups in the wake of the convoy, which was greeted by banner-waving supporters stationed at points along the route.
Speaking ahead of the protest, action group member Ian Seed said that the garden village plan was “total nonsense”.- as were attempts to justify the need for it by linking it to the national cyber force centre to be built in the area.
“There are plenty of places that the people [who will work there] could live. Look at all of the other developments that are happening around Preston within 10 or 15 minutes [of the site] - in Longridge, Fulwood or Barton.
“There is no need for this development at all.
“Plus, if there are 1,300 homes, you could end up with, say, 2,500 additional cars going onto Cuerdale Lane of a morning.
“It’s just going to be chaos - we know what it's like now when there is any problem on the motorway,” Ian said.
He also claimed that it would be “inconsistent and perverse” if South Ribble Borough Council were to approve the garden village, when it had rejected plans for 1,100 homes on the Pickering’s Farm site in Penwortham - even though that plot is allocated for development under the authority’s local plan.
Building on greenbelt land like that being eyed for the garden village is permitted only if an applicant can demonstrate “very special circumstances” for their proposal.
Samlesbury and Cuerdale Parish Council chair Graham Young told the Post that it was vital that the carbon capture capacity of the proposed plot was taken into consideration before any decision was made to allow building.
“It’s doing a great job of sucking a lot of the carbon out from the motorway. You also need to think about agriculture - we have to keep farmers farming,” Cllr Young said.
A Go Fund Me page has been set up, entitled Save Samlesbury Greenbelt, in order to develop a “fighting fund” to oppose the garden village plans.
Upon submission of Story Homes’ planning application – which includes a proposed primary school and employment space - John Winstanley, managing director for strategic land at the housebuilder, said that the firm was “proud” to bring forward what he promised would be an “exemplar garden village”.
He added: “The plans have been sensitively designed with the feedback received during the pre-application consultation to deliver a high-quality, sustainable development fit for modern-day living.
“We understand there have been some concerns to the proposals within Samlesbury parish; however, we are confident that the plans will unlock significant benefits for all residents in South Ribble and beyond.
“Cuerdale Garden Village will bring forward a range of quality homes in a carefully designed, sustainable new community, whilst unlocking significant business investment within the borough,” Mr. Winstanley added.
Friday’s public meeting - which is expected to be attended by Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans - will take place at Wilsons Contractors on Potter Lane, with the doors opening at 7pm.
Representations to South Ribble Borough Council - either in support of, or opposition to, the proposed garden village - should be made by 19th July.