Residents snubbed in Pendle 'community land' bid

First published in Pendle Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

CAMPAIGNERS who want to take control of a patch of green land between Nelson and Colne have hit out after the council rejected a bid for a community land trust.

Get Knotted, which is campaigning against the building of 212 homes on land off Knotts Drive, Colne, and RAGE (Residents Against Gib Hill Exploitation), teamed up to ask Pendle Council to transfer the ownership of Gib Hill to them, so they could preserve the land as a countryside park for future generations.

But council chiefs have played down the possibility of that happening, because of the value of the land if it was to be sold for development.

Campaigner Azhar Ali said: “Finally the council has come clean and admitted what we have thought for years, that they do want this land to be sold for housing.

“The only value in the land is if it used for development. It should be preserved and handed over to a community land trust, who can look after it and improve it so it can be used by local residents.

“The council has a duty to preserve that land and we will be calling on councillors to make sure it is not sold for housing.”

Neil Watson, Pendle Council's planning and building control manager, said: “Councils are not at liberty to dispose of land at a discounted rate where the value of that would exceed £2million.

“That would be the case for Gib Hill as the value would be in excess of the £2million threshold. Any decision to gift the land would need to be given by the Secretary of State.

“Clearly the land is an asset and could realise a capital receipt that could be used to support activities of the council throughout Pendle.

“It would be inappropriate to dispose of the land to a CLT for very limited benefits for Pendle residents.

“In order for a CLT to operate, it would need to raise the market value to purchase the site (this would be several million pounds) and then have the resources to maintain and improve it.

“This is not in reality something that is likely to be achievable.”

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