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Lancaster group condemns Council for 'lack of basic planning' in 'Garden Village' super-estate proposals

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Bailrigg Garden Village proposed sites (click to enlarge)
Bailrigg Garden Village proposed sites (click to enlarge)
Author: 
Chris Satori

 

New local campaign group CLOUD (Citizens of Lancaster Opposed to Unnecessary Development) hosted a packed public meeting this week to discuss Lancaster City Council's Bailrigg Garden Village (GV) proposals - a plan to build 3,500 - 5,000 new homes on greenfield sites in South Lancaster, a sprawl of super-estates that would create a housing desert between the Canal and M6 from Scotforth and Hala through to Lancaster University and parts of Galgate. (see image for map)

They cited a number of concerns that Lancaster City Council (LCC) had omitted to tackle when drawing up these proposals in their Local Plan. These included:

Size and the Turley Report

To put the size of the proposed garden village in context, Galgate contains just 1200 houses, but Bailrigg GV is planned to have at least 3,500 and possibly as many as 5,000 houses. The pre-Brexit 2015 Turley Report, on which the City Council based its estimates of growth in the need for new housing, relies on outdated predictions of significant growth in the local economy and exponential growth in the number of overseas immigrants. Local residents expressed great dissatisfation with the City Council for adopting the figures in this report despite the emerging evidence that they were unrealistic. 

It was noted that there were already a number of new housing developments in Lancaster and many of the newly built houses were still standing empty. It was generally agreed that the City Council had not provided adequate evidence to support the Local Plan's assumption that 14,000 new dwellings needed to be added to the district's current 62,000 by 2031.

Location

Although the group organising the meeting originated from the longstanding Galgate Community Action Group, retired lecturer Stephen Constantine, who chaired the meeting, said it was their intention to unite with other local groups monitoring development in other local areas as part of the Local Plan, to ensure that the overall level of development was actually relevant to meeting local needs. People pointed out that, despite the huge investment in the Heysham Gateway, next to none of these new development sites had been allocated there, but were instead mainly located in south Lancaster.

Traffic

Traffic from the new Bailrigg super-estates would affect both the A6 and Ashton Road leading to major congestion at the Pointer Roundabout making existing problems worse. Residents from Bowerham, Primrose, Scotforth, Moorlands, Ashton Road, Stodday and Glasson Dock would all be affected. 

Philip Ternauth, a retired highways planning officer, sought evidence that LCC's Local Plan designers had addressed or modelled the issues of how this increased traffic flow would affect the local transport profile. A basic requirement of any development proposal was that such impacts be modelled via an approved methodology and realistically provided for. 

Flood Risk

Bailrigg and Galgate already have severe intermittent problems with flooding. Galgate residents have long complained of flooding due to development at Bailrigg that has swollen the hard standing runoff of water. The proposals would more than double the existing runoff surface. Again, it was queried whether the Local Plan had taken this crucial factor into account and made provision for it. 

Amenities

Pressure on the local A&E services, clinic and community NHS services, dentists, GPs, and on local schools, day centres and general community resources was a great matter for concern, as, again, the Local Plan did not venture much opinion on how these needs would be met for the planned new communities. 

Loss of recreational green areas was deeply felt. There was a general concensus that 'separation' zones between estates would inevitably be filled, and that a few little enclosed green squares did not offer a comparable amenity to the green spaces that large numbers of families and young people depended on for their mental and physical health and well-being. 

Speculation

It was noted that the University had been buying up parcels of land relevant to the new proposals, and concern that land would be priced out of the reach of local farmers and businesses. There was already evidence that local businesses were being given notice to quit their premises to make way for land speculation. 

Affordable Housing

There was concern that the proposed housing would be priced to suit the pockets of people retreating from the south of England, as prices there were inflated by overseas property speculators. People at the meeting called for the Council to take a strong and sustained stance in ensuring that a significant proportion of any new housing development should be set at locally affordable prices, and that local housing need was their priority. 

Costs to the Taxpayers

The costs of assessing and providing for all the problems raised above would be a further burden to local taxpayers; already local council budgets had suffered 60% cuts and were no longer equipped for these complex tasks. It was a matter of some concern that developers' profits should be ringfenced at 20%, but costs to local taxpayers in creating new amenities and highways to serve and enable any new developments had not been made transparent in the consultations. 

What's Next?

Lancaster City Council's website states that 'During the course of 2017 the Council will continue to update evidence on flooding, highways, open space, ecology and local centre provision to shape and inform the future masterplanning work. Furthermore the Council will continue to engage with stakeholders and infrastructure providers to ensure the requirements for new and improved infrastructure is clearly set out.'

Following the initial consultation, which was completed in Spring 2017, LCC will be formulating an amended Local Plan later in the year and launching a second round of consultations. To find out more about what is being planned for Lancaster, visit the Lancaster City Council Local Plan site and the CLOUD website.

 

 

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