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Objection to Houses on Dark Lane Part 1
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Old 01-11-12, 13:24   #1
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Angry Objection to Houses on Dark Lane Part 1

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Objection and Comments relating to a Planning Application 2012/0341 Dark Lane, Newchurch, Rossendale, BB4 7UA. Closing Date for objections is tomorrow 2nd November. Application can be seen on http://www.rossendale.gov.uk/site/sc...php?appID=2875

Planning Application - Rossendale Borough Council

I write as Chairman of Rossendale United Supporters Association who participate as members of Rossendale Football Forum, The Forum represents Rossendale Valley football clubs who have started working together. It follows the re-launch of Rossendale Football Forum with 12 representatives from different clubs attending from across the Borough at the invitation of Rossendale Leisure Trust.
The Supporters Association wish to make the following Representations and Observations about the above application.

1. The Rossendale Football Forum Secretary was recently authorised to write to Rossendale Borough expressing concern about the loss of certain developed recreational land in Rossendale including Dark Lane as follows,

“Dear Sir,

Developed Recreational Land in Rossendale,

The Rossendale Football Forum have asked me to write to you expressing their concern that certain developed recreational sites are at risk since their acquisition by speculative developers or owners who may seek the disposal of the sites to housing developers. These sites are Dark Lane Football Ground, home to Rossendale United from 1898 until 2011, Stand United Football Ground, Ewood Bridge and Waterbarn Cricket ground, a ground used for Cricket, Bowls and Tennis from 1903 until 2011.

These three sites are all close to main roads, are flat and very well drained, have parking space and have electricity, sewerage and good infrastructural assets such as drainage. The Forum is concerned that the density of good quality playing fields in Rossendale is well below the national average. We are particularly concerned that the owners of these properties are allowing them to become overgrown and derelict with the intent of them becoming eyesores and thus wearing down any resistance from local residents to redevelopment for housing.

A major constraint to the establishment of adult football teams is the availability of suitable land for enclosed football matches. No less than 5 teams share the central pitch at Marl Pits. When Rossendale United Supporters Association asked the Council for suitable land to set up a new club, the only suggestion that was forthcoming was the old Alder Grange school field owned by Lancashire County Council. This site would barely accommodate a junior football pitch. Hence RUSA have had to defer their plans to launch a new club. Despite the loss of the time expired wooden stand at Dark Lane to fire, the ground could be put to use again for adult football, similarly with Stand United's ground in Ewood Bridge and Waterbarn Recreation Ground which could be used for junior football pitches.

The Forum strongly recommends to the Council that there should be no redevelopment of these sites which would result in the loss of their amenity as sporting facilities, particularly given the expected upsurge in sporting interest following this summer's Olympic Games.”

Ref 2. Application for Outline Planning Permission With Some Matters Reserved.
Town and Country Planning Act 1990

This form and other documents prepared by Andrew Watt of Maze Planning Solutions contain a very major error. The last game played by Rossendale United at Dark Lane after a history stretching back to 1898 was 30th April 2011, not in April 2010. Rossendale beat Maine Road 1 – 0. This may seem to be a small point but it illustrates the lack of factual non-league football knowledge by Maze Planning Solutions. It is interesting to note that Maze were already talking to Mr Straw, Planning Officer while Andrew Connolly was talking to the Supporters about the Club’s survival.

Section 11 of this form include the declaration that the foul sewer will be connected to the main sewer on Staghills Road. Please be informed that this sewer is a 9” sewer which reached its capacity when the flats opposite Dark Lane were built. Has the applicant obtained any permission to connect to this sewer?

REF 3. Report No. J138/TA July 2012 PROPOSED RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT, DARK LANE, RAWTENSTALL TRANSPORT ASSESSMENT

This report argues that improvements to Dark Lane will make access to St Nicholas’s Junior School safer. This voluminous report does not address the question of how it will be safer for children and parents mixing with traffic from the 50 new houses between 8.00am to 9.00am and 3.00pm to 4.00pm along a 100 metre length of Dark Lane, in contrast to football matches on the ground starting at 3.00pm on Saturday afternoons and 7.30 pm on weekday evenings, when the school is closed.



Ref 4. Pre-Application Consultation Report relating to Proposed Housing Development dated 06 July 2012, prepared by Maze Planning Solutions. Our comments are attached in italics.

Para1.4 The football club, its ground and the social club were put up for sale in
autumn 2009, through Nolan Redshaw Chartered Surveyors. No offers were
received. Hardly surprising given the asking price by Andrew Connolly of 750,000. This figure is based on Andrew Connolly’s requirement that his investments in running the club be recouped and elements added for potential redevelopment profit and paying off bank loans allegedly secured on the ground.

1.5 Rossendale United ceased to be an active football club in summer 2010, at
the end of the 2009/2010 playing season. Not true, last game was 30thApril 2011.

Significant debts had built up and there was no way of balancing the books. The financial and operational responsibilities within a limited company begin and end with the Director – Andrew Connolly.

It was not a viable going concern. Why not? Similar clubs such as Bacup Borough and Ramsbottom United are surviving and thriving. The difference being hands on leadership from Brent Peters and Harry Williams inspiring a loyal body of volunteers and local sponsors. Other clubs that Rossendale played against during Andrew Connolly’s ownership such as Accrington Stanley and Fleetwood Town have been promoted to the Football League.

1.6 Unoccupied, the football ground and its associated facilities quickly became a
target for vandalism and anti-social behaviour. The interior of the former
club house has been vandalised extensively and on the evening of 15 January
this year an arson attack led to a fire that devastated the main stand. The Victorian Wooden Stand at Dark Lane is a sad loss but it was time expired and potentially
dangerous. It is remarkable that Andrew Connolly founder of Andrew Connolly Demolition did not have the expertise to secure the ground. The pertinent question being who has benefitted from this fire?


1.7 The fire underlined the increasingly urgent and important need to identify a
positive future for the site to prevent it becoming a serious blight on the local
community, and to remove the risks and dangers of a repeat of the recent
fire. Nothing left to burn down but profits to be realised.

Ref 3.5 Consultation with Borough Council officers

 “There is no objection in principle to redevelopment of the site for housing
because it is situated within the Urban Boundary. There is however a
need to consider more carefully the planning policy issues that arise
because the site was identified as Recreation Area and Greenlands in the
Local Plan, and that designation has more recently been carried over into
the Council’s Core Strategy development plan document.” Rightly re-stated by Maze. If the Council ignores its own adopted policies on the protection of Recreational Areas then no Recreational Area is safe particularly in a valley with few flat sporting fields.
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