Will Ribbleside Residents’ Voices Be Heard?
As the driving force behind the Riverworks vision, Preston City Council’s adoption of the Statement of Community Involvement in April of this year has been welcomed by Ribbleside residents concerned about the future of the Ribble and local green belt.
Preston City Council state that:
‘Effective community involvement is a fundamental part of preparing the Local Development Framework. The Statement of Community Involvement sets out how the Council aims to achieve continuous community involvement in the preparation of local development documents and in dealing with planning applications. The Council aims to engage with as many people and organisations as possible in order to ensure community ownership of the Local Development Framework. Following public consultation and examination by the Secretary of State, the Statement of Community Involvement was adopted by the Council on 12th April 2006’.
The Save The Ribble Campaign is an organisation formed by and for local residents, all along the Ribble corridor. Our aims are to:
- raise awareness of issues which concern local residents about the Riverworks proposals for the Ribble corridor;
- raise awareness about the broader implications of building a barrage on the internationally significant Ribble, and housing and business developments on our green belt;
- raise awareness of the unique nature of the Ribble and adjoining green belt for the environment, for tourism, and for local people.
Riverworks claims to be ‘A purpose driven vision for the people of Preston, delivered by a powerful working partnership, providing opportunities for new prestigious waterfront developments’
(PCC Riverworks: "Quality Riverside" )
This is centred on the ‘vision’ to build a barrage on the Ribble to maintain ‘a constant water level’ which, PCC claim, ‘will stimulate interest, aid re-discovery and enhance the river functionality by creating many new opportunities for river usage ranging from angling, boating and general water-based recreational activities to bird-watching, walking, horse riding and cycling’ and ‘will also make large areas of the riverside into more attractive places and will enhance both the natural and the built environment’
(Riverworks: "Quality Riverside" )
Residents are pointing out that:
- the Ribble is already valued locally for its beauty and biodiversity, and the peace, quiet and relaxation it offers to local residents;
- the Ribble is valued nationally and internationally for its significant ecosystem which supports over ¼ million birds, and numerous fish species – including the Atlantic Salmon, the 10th most threatened animal species in Europe;
- the Ribble already offers over 32,000 Lancashire anglers excellent fishing, an industry and a past-time which a barrage on the Ribble would put at risk according to both the Lancashire and the Ribble Fisheries Consultative Associations;
- the Ribble already offers boating opportunities to boat users happy to wait for the rhythms of the tide;
- bird watchers, cyclists, horse-riders, and walkers already enjoy the biodiversity, access to nature in its unspoilt beauty, and the peace and tranquillity of the Ribble and adjoining green belt.
Mudflats replenished twice a day by the tide. This protected mudflat habitat runs right into the heart of Preston and South Ribble, allowing bird watchers, walkers, and ordinary residents in the Penwortham and Broadgate areas to enjoy the birds, who wait for the tide to go out so they can feast! On the left of the picture, this new housing development in Broadgate is already eating into one of our cricket grounds.
Mudflats are a nationally and internationally protected habitat - including those running right into Preston and Penwortham, as can be seen here on English Nature's UK Priority Biodiversity Action Plan Habitats.
The Heron and the swans are amongst the regular feathered residents of Broadgate and Penwortham.
Goose feeding at low tide near Penwortham Old Bridge.
Black Headed Gull, Riverside, Penwortham.
Riverworks also includes a ‘vision’ to build housing and business developments on green belt both sides of the river, land which currently comprises meadows, fields, woodland, public footpaths, allotments, amateur league football fields, and provides enjoyment, relaxation, and space to breathe to largely urbanised areas of Preston and South Ribble.
Penwortham - Walton le Dale green belt, 5 minutes from Fishergate in the city centre, and earmarked for the "Central Park" housing and business park development.
These and other areas earmarked for potential development in PCC’s Composite Masterplan give many residents cause for concern.
Preston City Council Composite Masterplan for potential development, including the Fishwick Bottoms, and "Central Park" building developments.
Residents are concerned that building a barrage will damage the environment on a local, national and international level as it will interfere with the free-flow of silts, nutrients and water, drowning, starving, and eroding vital mudflats and salt marsh: the life-blood of the Ribble’s entire ecosystem.
Residents are concerned that developing on our green belt will be detrimental to the environment, causing loss of biodiversity through the loss of habitat of countless bird, mammal, insect and plant species, some of which are already under threat on a national and international level.
Residents are concerned that our quality of life will be damaged by the loss of our green spaces, access to wildlife and nature, and local green amenities, and by the noise, crowds and pollution of a water sports park on our beautiful, peaceful river.
Starlings are now on the RSPB Red List of birds in serious decline, relying in this area on the farmland, open woodland and hedgerows of the Ribbleside green belt.
Common Blue butterfly: clouds of these can be seen here every June.
Residents are concerned a Ribble barrage and building developments on the green belt – which is also the Ribble’s floodplain - will exacerbate flood risk in areas already considered at “significant risk” of flooding by the Environment Agency.
Residents are NOT engaging in “scaremongering” but raising legitimate concerns which arise from Riverworks’ own documentation and stated ‘vision’.
Residents are NOT claiming that the Riverworks proposals “are going ahead without proper consultation”, we are concerned that this ‘purpose driven vision for the people of Preston’ has not seen fit to consult with the people of Preston – or, indeed, residents from other communities along the Ribble corridor who will be affected by these proposals - BEFORE the time and expense of drawing up proposals for a project which has a prominant position in several key strategic documents which directly relate to the future of this area.
See for example:
Lancashire Economic Strategy Draft v2.1, esp p11;
Central Lancashire City Sub-Regional Spatial Strategy, particularly pages 7, 14, and 19 through 25, focusing on the development and barraging of the Ribble, including a potential road across the river as part of this barrage, and the 'review of green belt boundaries south of the River Ribble, through the Local Development Framework process' (p19) in order to allow its development; and the
Preston Strategic Partnership
Local residents have a right to a voice in the vision for their own future: this should be a shared vision for and by local people, not one imposed by ‘a powerful working partnership’ which comprises Council officials, development consultants, and economic and business partnerships.
We welcome PCC’s Statement of Community Involvement, and are disappointed that our last letter to Preston City Council, sent in May, which outlines our full concerns, remains, 2 months later, as yet unanswered and unacknowledged.
Save The Ribble Campaign remain committed to promoting the River Ribble and adjoining green belt for its local, national and international importance to the environment and biodiversity, its vital ‘space to breathe’ for local residents, and its unique potential for sustainable tourism for the Ribble corridor.
This blog is a forum for local residents to discuss issues raised in the Riverworks documents: to access information, raise issues, and share their concerns and love for the Ribble and adjoining green spaces, and we research and source all our information so that residents can access both the Riverworks documents and alternative perspectives of the Ribble, and thus make an informed decision about these issues in both local and national terms.