GREENFIELD DEVELOPMENT PLANNED FROM LANCASTER TO THE UNIVERSITY
Steve Booth 27/9/02
STOP THE SPRAWL
Lancaster University, despite local opposition, is going ahead
with its South West campus expansion. In conjunction with Jarvis plc,
under Blair's PFI (Public Finance Initiative) scheme, 1750 new residences
are set to be built on a greenfields site, and leased to Jarvis for
35 years. Students objected to the scheme, saying it would drive up
rents and put pressure on city accommodation. At £68 per week,
Jarvis look set to make £3.57M per year out of this deal alone,
plus any rent increases that can be squeezed out of the captive clientele
subsequently. The real cost of it will be met with student debt.
The story doesn't end there because more developments
are now planned for campus, latest being an 'Infolab' complex, which
one critic described as looking like a Dalek Factory. Local people
objected to the development, people in Galgate are worried about the
increased run off from the extra buildings and new roads causing floods.
Meadow Park has flooded at least three times since the previous expansion
in 1993. Ellel residents were worried about the impact of the new
buildings, the nearest being just 150 yards away.
Then there are road safety fears, and worries about
traffic delays from the A6 link road. Predictably, our objections
have been brushed aside, the plans for the Jarvis build being rubber
stamped through on August 27th.
Higher education is much in the news, with much concern being raised
about the perceived lowering of A level standards, and the current
Scandal' the worst ever crisis for the university entrance exams.
Similarly, there are concerns about university standards in general;
semesterisation, modularisation and the relentless expansion of places
said to bring a 'dumbing down' of degrees.
This continual expansion of the university here is just
one aspect of the problem. They are not the only ones building. Here
in Galgate, people expressed disquiet against new developments like
Crofters Fold and Carrwood Gardens. Some wags renamed the village
'Jacksonville.' Further north, near Scotforth, there are the Royal
Albert and Whinney Carr housing estates, steadily spreading southwards,
being given naff pretentious names like Highgrove and Maryvale. Take
a look at these places and see their true awfulness; their sameness,
the way builders cram as many in as possible, with just a small space
in between each conformist little box. The sprawl spreads relentlessly
southwards, with no real prospect of stopping unless the opposition
to it can become louder, more focused and politically effective.
Then there is another threat to the countryside - the Western
By-Pass. This is the big one. If this goes, the lot goes. Every
so often this monument to the unsustainability and selfishness of
the last century car culture keeps getting reeled out. There is a
hidden agenda, of course. Should this be built, then yes there will
be a string of petrol stations, out of town super-stores, DIY hypermarkets,
drive thru McDonalds, and the rest of that, but also we can kiss goodbye
to all the countryside in between this and the motorway.
Study their plans - Whinney
Carr North 13.5 hectares, Whinney Carr S. 30 Ha, Site 35, site
EC, Bailrigg Business Park, Lawson's Bridge 7.3 Ha, Burrow Beck area
H4, the university expansions, Wardfield Farm Galgate.... (and these
are just the ones they admitted to). Come to see the university expansion
as but a small part of it.
What is needed is a concentrated opposition to this,
a tight alliance between the local Green Party, existing conservation
campaigns, and residents' groups. Presently we react to the council
salami slicing tactics as and when they arise, but we really need
to work continuously and build up momentum. Photos of the threatened
countryside could be put on glossy brochures and distributed to all
the voters in the threatened areas. Longer term, a campaign to get
this whole area declared green belt or protected status is needed.
We need to change the political balance of
the council through next May's elections. If Stan Henig and other
Labour dinosaurs like Bob Clarke can lose their council seats, then
anything can happen. Pat Quinton next?
Links to other articles:
16th June 2002
21st August 2002
22nd August 2002
Letter in Lancaster Citizen newspaper p 17
28th August 2002
7th September 2002,
'Local Democracy in Action', Freedom magazine, page 3
Sept 9th 2002
September 26th 2002