Save The Ribble

A blog dedicated to preserving the beauty and delicate ecosystem of the River Ribble, and opposing the Riverworks 'vision' to build a barrage on our River and develop on our riverbanks, floodplains and green spaces, causing damage to wildlife and the environment and increasing the risk of flooding to our homes. Save the Ribble Campaign is not responsible for the content of external blogs or websites which link here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Vernon Carus Development Proposals - Loss of Green Space and "Protected" Flood Zone 2

The development proposals for 425 new houses and a business area on the Factory Lane site at Vernon Carus in Penwortham are currently in the public domain and will be submitted for Planning Permission over the coming weeks (possibly in the same or amended form from the current plans).

The good news is that the developers are promising to ensure the long-term survival of the Vernon Carus sports pitches.

The bad news is that the development is NOT JUST proposed for the factory site itself but extends back behind the factory right across the south of the site to Leyland Road at the Sumpter Horse (which will be demolished to make way for a roundabout and access road and further developments) and to The Cawsey at the old gas works.

In fact, by far the larger part of the development will obliterate a significant stretch of green field which runs between the reservoir in the east and the stream cutting through towards the River Ribble.

you can click on the map to enlarge it...

Whilst the good news is that the area to the east of the reservoir will be protected and managed as a wildlife area, and the trees running alongside the stream and the land to the west of the stream alongside the housing development is not included in the plans (at the moment!), the further bad news is that this entire green field area is also designated FLOOD ZONE 2 in the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment.

The proposed development is in the paler blue Zone 2 Flood Risk area. The darker blue is Zone 3, floodplain and higher risk.

Local people already know that this land is a wetland, steadily soaking up huge amounts of rainfall per cubic metre and releasing this water slowly down to the river and safely away, but as Flood Zone 2, this land is also at risk of flooding in extreme events.

This map shows Flood Zones 3 and 2, often overlapping one another in this area. The colour-coded key is difficult to follow but the paler area covering the development site is Zone 2, and the yellow dotted line around it means the Environment Agency have document flooding in this area. The darker areas between Factory Lane and the River Ribble are Flood Zone 3 and floodplain, plus a flood warning area.

This is why the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment is supposed to be ensuring that developments take place in Flood Zone 1, the lowest risk areas.

As it is, the size of this development will be of serious concern to local residents already struggling to cope with the ever-increasing traffic volumes and congestion which already exists on Leyland Road - and due to increase still further anyway with the existing new housing developments already passed for the old gas works site.

The SITE of this development will increase flood risk to existing communities as well as put the new homes themselves at risk. The developers are claiming that having a drainage system taking rainwater straight to the reservoir will ensure flood risk is not an issue but the land will still BE UNABLE TO SOAK UP AND HOLD THE VOLUMES OF WATER IT CURRENTLY DOES IF THE LAND IS CONCRETED OVER.

It is clear that continuing to build on flood risk areas and flood storage areas cannot continue: we need URGENT ACTION ON FLOOD RISK NOW.

We feel that the development should be scaled down to the factory site ONLY which will make this development much less unsustainable than the current plans which entail significant loss of water storage areas, loss of green space and biodiversity, and unacceptable increases in traffic in an area already struggling to cope.

Once these proposals are submitted for Planning Permission, we will examine the final plans and their potential impact on the sustainability of the area in more detail. In the meantime, you can view the Penwortham Mills plans, and can comment to the developer Bovis Homes by 22nd February using their comments page. The proposals will be submitted for Planning Permission in the Spring...

You can contact us at and let us know what you think.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Vernon Carus Plans on Public Display

The plans for the Vernon Carus development on Factory Lane in Penwortham will be made available for public viewing at Vernon Carus Sports Club on Factory Lane this week:
- on Friday, February 8, from 10am to 6pm, and
- on Saturday, February 9, from 10am to 4pm.

According to the Lancashire Evening Post:

'Residents are being asked for their views on the proposed redevelopment of the former Vernon Carus mill in Penwortham.

Bovis Homes wants to build up to 400 homes on the 23- hectare site in Factory Lane.
The developer hopes to build a mixed-use development including new homes, business space, and community facilities.

David Shard, Bovis Homes regional managing director, said: "We want to breathe new life into this disused factory site and provide the right kind of housing, employment and leisure opportunities for local people.

"In order to do this, we want to hear the views of local people and get their feedback.

"We hope this process will enable us to prepare a planning application that will deliver a number of benefits."

According to The Preston Citizen:

'The development will also enable the Vernon Carus Sports Club gain security of tenure on its grounds, opening the door to potential funding from sports bodies and the national lottery needed to update the club's facilities.'

Hopefully this means that our sports facilities are safe... but what does it mean in terms of floodrisk issues, and regarding developing on any of the surrounding green spaces?

If you can, check the plans out for yourself.
If you can't make it to Vernons, the proposals will be online from February 8 at

Closing date for submissions concerning the plans is February 22.
Please note this IS NOT YET A PLANNING APPLICATION: the developers are seeking your views on the development.

We will, of course, be analysing these proposals in the light of local concerns for the future of the Vernon Carus sports pitches and regarding the little matter of floodplain and green space developments, so as soon as we've had a good look at the plans, we will post more details on the blog... watch this space for further details coming up soon...

You can contact us at

Friday, February 01, 2008

A ‘Revitalised’ Riverside, or a Developers Dream?

click on the article to read it in full

According to the Lancashire Evening Post, the Chairman of the Vision Board, Malcolm McVicar has stated that the Preston Vision Board want ‘to press ahead with plans to revitalise the riverside as it flows through the city – with or without the controversial barrage’.
He has also said that ‘The river is a tremendous asset for Preston which is largely ignored’…

Could it be that Preston Vision Board are finally getting off the “Regeneration” = Concrete mind-set at last, and recognising our fantastic river and riverside areas for the unique and irreplaceable assets they really are?

Jane Brunning of Save the Ribble is also quoted in the Lancashire Evening Post saying that ‘she would be quite happy with development of the riverside which did not upset its delicate ecosystem’ as ‘It is a case of working with nature and enhancing it rather than just concreting up the sides of the river as has previously been suggested’.

What Jane is talking about is the following:

Local people have been arguing right from the very beginning of the summer of 2005, when the Riverworks scheme first reared its head, that what WE want to see is our natural River Ribble and riverside assets genuinely enhanced by sensitive improvements which WILL revitalise the area for locals and visitors.

We are particularly keen that the wetland infrastructure, and riverside and green belt habitats should be improved, alongside improvements to access and facilities for people, and thus ensure this fantastic asset attracts even more visitors to the area and will also contribute an exciting new facility to the new Ribble Coast & Wetlands Regional Park.

It is also the case that restoring wetlands 'reduces flood risk'.

- All of these ideas put forward by local people are in keeping with the objectives set out by the Environment Agency to increase both biodiversity AND flood protection by keeping floodplains undeveloped and increasing wetland provision to protect both local communities and the environment against the impacts of climate change.

- They are also in keeping with the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment which aims to ensure floodplains and other flood risk areas remain undeveloped, and with a number of biodiversity plans including the Lancashire Biodiversity Action Plan, the Integrated Ribble Catchment Management Plan, and Planning Policy 17 Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation to name but a few…

So could it be that Preston Vision Board are listening to both local people and Environmental organisations at last? Are we finally in agreement regarding “revitalising” our riverside areas?

Sorry to disappoint you but Preston Vision Board’s ideas of how to ‘revitalise’ the riverside still means pouring concrete all over it. The Vision Board ‘dream’ is still to see ‘cafes, restaurants, and homes alongside the river…’ ... 'with or without the barrage'...

Malcolm McVicar’s comments and ‘dream’ appear to show that the Vision Board has a lack of knowledge and lack of respect for the River Ribble, the riverside area, local communities, and all of the environmental strategies directly connected to the River Ribble itself as well as to broader biodiversity and flood management issues:

For instance, did you know that, according to Mr. McVicar, ‘In other cities you can walk along the riverside’?
This suggests that you CAN’T walk along the Ribble! Yet local people and visitors manage to walk right next to the Ribble on both the Preston and South Ribble banks. Amazing! (Wonder if he’s heard of The Ribble Way...?)

Did you know that ‘In other cities… you can live next to it’ as well?
Are those of us who DO live right next to the River, in Broadgate, Frenchwood, Ashton, Penwortham, Middleforth, and Walton le Dale, imagining our homes? We must be! Yet, there they are, looking as solid as anything!

Of course, building MORE homes near the River has been identified as a bad idea as far as ensuring our flood risk does not increase still further, but the fact remains that there are already a large number of homes by the River Ribble in Preston and South Ribble, so if you fancy living right by the river, check out the local estate agents to see what's available...

Clearly you CAN walk alongside the River Ribble, you CAN live next to the River Ribble, and even sit and enjoy a drink and a meal by the River Ribble!

Admittedly, since The Continental closed its doors, the choices for local people and visitors about where to enjoy a meal and a drink whilst relaxing by the river are reduced to either the Bridge Inn, the Shawes Arms, or the Tickled Trout - and very nice they are too! - but once the Pavilion café opens in Avenham and Miller Parks, more choices will exist.
Of course, many riversiders prefer to relax on the river banks away from the crowds and festivities, and there are many, many areas to choose from on both the Preston and South Ribble banks to do this whilst walking along the river – or at least, we have for now…

And yes, it WOULD be nice if The Continental re-opened and perhaps built a nice terrace overlooking the river by the wall to save us having to sit on the wall itself as we while away our summer evenings by the river…
And yes, there are places, perhaps along the harbour wall off Strand Road where a nice restaurant and another café could be built… but clearly what Mr. McVicar means by revitalising the riverside is building a whole new development ‘alongside the river’ in ways which will not “revitalise” the riverside for people or the environment but make a lot of money for developers at the expense of our unique riverside areas.

How many cities do you know have an Internationally-important wetland ecosystem 5 minutes walk from the city centre?
How many cities do you know with wildlife-rich wetlands just a stroll away from the main shopping areas?

How many times do cities with developments right on their riverbanks flood?

So the next question is, where might this ‘dream’ Vision of concrete be?

As the Preston Vision Board, do they mean to build a large new riverside development in Preston itself? If so, where might this be? Frenchwood Rec? Fishwick Bottoms? Hmmm… probably a bit too far away from the city centre. Well that only leaves Avenham and Miller Parks then...

...Unless, of course, they mean the Penwortham banks too…? We think Mr. McVicar and the Vision Board’s ideas to “revitalise” the riverside must be referring to something like the huge new urban conurbation of thousands of houses, businesses, and riverside walkways, cafés ands restaurants highlighted in the Riverworks brochures for the Penwortham Green Belt, with a number of areas selected on Frenchwood Rec and Penwortham Holme thrown in perhaps...?

Either way, whether Frenchwood or Penwortham or some other riverside area in Preston or South Ribble, the facts remain that their eyes are on developing on the riverside, which not only plays a vital role in biodiversity, but is also floodplain…

So, if Preston Vision Board are pressing ahead with these riverside developments, why are they blatantly ignoring Environment Agency advice to stop developing on the floodplain?

Why are they ignoring the remit of the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment?

Why are they ignoring the obvious situation we are experiencing with increasingly high rainfall and flooding?
And last but not least, why are they ignoring the wishes of local people?

Mr. McVicar does appear to mention local people as he says: ‘the problem is that some people do not want any change’, and goes on to say that ‘We cannot afford to live in the past’.
Mr. McVicar, WE AGREE WITH YOU. Some people do not want any change, they seem to think that the only way to ‘revitalise’ or “regenerate” an area is to carry on doing the same old things that people have been doing in the past: concrete over it and ignore the consequences.

We DO WANT change, and WE do not ignore the River: we want to see developments that are sustainable for the environment and for local communities, for a better future for all of us.

Incidently, the plans for the Vernon Carus development on Factory Lane in Penwortham will be made available for public viewing at Vernon Carus Sports Club on Factory Lane on Friday, February 8, from 10am to 6pm and Saturday, February 9, from 10am to 4pm.'

For the full story, see Lancashire Evening Post and The Preston Citizen.

The proposals will be online from February 8 at
Closing date for submissions is February 22.

We will, of course, be analysing these proposals in the light of local concerns for the future of the Vernon Carus sports pitches and regarding the little matter of floodplain developments, so watch this space for further details soon...

You can contact us at

"The care of rivers is not a question of rivers, but of the human heart" Tanako Shozo Save The Ribble Logo