I'm no NIMBY but…


It’s not so long ago that the government’s major political push concerned letting local people decide on local matters – it was called Building the Big Society wasn’t it? I presume from the decision last week to allow the construction of yet more housing in my village of Long Preston in Ribblesdale that the Big Society idea has now been abandoned.
Residents didn’t want any more housing, the Parish Council were against the development and the Highways Department objected to plans for the site. However, the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s appeal inspector, Norfolk-born musician William Weston, gave the go-ahead for the development.
Well, at least the park authority can can say to the faceless Whitehall bureaucrats ‘look what good boys and girls we are, we’ve ticked one of your required boxes’ and provided some ‘much-needed’ and also ‘affordable’ housing.
Hands up anyone who knows what ‘affordable’ means in the context of housing.
The site on Green Gate Lane lies within the Long Preston Conservation Area and I have to admit it is currently a little run down, but that in itself doesn’t necessarily mean it must be turned over to a developer who then makes a fat profit at the expense of a lot of misery to others.
We are talking here of 13 houses – maybe not a lot for a town but a fair percentage of a small village – perhaps 300 extra cars journeys per week down a single track lane which joins on to School Lane (self explanatory) then on to the busy A65 (which in Long Preston alone feeds 30+ direct vehicular accesses).
The cottage on the left of my photo at the junction between School Lane and Green Gate Lane was partly demolished by a wagon trying to negotiate a left turn a couple of years ago.
The authority claims there isn’t enough housing in the National Park yet hundreds of properties in Long Preston and elsewhere in the Dales are second homes or holiday lets. Local estate agents are packed with houses for sale. And what is the point of building more houses when there have been very few new jobs created in the vicinity for donkey’s years, and also the schools and authorities are scratting round for funds and resources.  I know first hand that  slow internet connections in the Dales drastically prohibit the creation of new businesses for employment.
I get the feeling that the park cares little for Long Preston – you’ll not see one of those quaint little sheep motifs signifying you’re entering the National Park in this village, despite Long Preston being the park’s ‘gateway’ from Lancashire.
I wonder what the planners’ decision would have been had someone applied to turn the site into a horse riding centre – or even a ‘horse hotel’ for the newly designed Pennine Bridleway which passes close by – which would certainly have benefited the community? Or how about a proposal for a youth centre or hard-play area for local children? Unfortunately these wouldn’t have ticked any boxes.
The thin edge of the developing wedge was pierced into Long Preston a few years back and it is now pushing open the door even further. I’m no NIMBY, I care about fair play and this Dales community.

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