Housing and the Local Plan


The Council is holding an informal consultation on plans for “Bailrigg Garden Village” i.e. 3,500 new homes.  The deadline is Wednesday 11 July and
the website is <http://www.lancaster.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/bailrigg-garden-villag
e> http://www.lancaster.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/bailrigg-garden-village.  

Before you do this, you may wish to look at the CLOUD website (Citizens of Lancaster Opposed to Unnecessary Development); they are concerned, amongst
other things, that the development is unsustainable and will aggravate flooding (e.g. Galgate at the end of last year).  Go to <https://www.cloudbgv2017.co.uk/https://www.cloudbgv2017.co.uk/ for more information.  

Anyone can reply to the Council’s consultation, and there are also consultation events on the following dates:

*  Wednesday 6 June, 3pm – 7pm, Lancaster House Hotel 
*  Saturday 9 June, 10am – 1pm, Ellel Village Hall
*  Tuesday 12 June, 11.30am – 2pm, The Storey
*  Thursday 14 June, 2pm – 6pm, Rowley Court
*  Monday 18 June, 11.30am – 2pm, The Storey
*  Thursday 21 June, 2pm – 5pm, Ellel Village Hall
*  Wednesday 27 June, 9.30am – 2.30pm, Lancaster House Hotel

 You can also ask to join their BGV mailing list by going to  <http://lancaster.us8.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=24c5f459e7bc0bbd14e96ff21&
id=ad382e8039> http://lancaster.us8.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=24c5f459e7bc0bbd14e96ff21&id=ad382e8039 


Smartgrowth UK report supports those fighting 'Garden Village' concept

The SMARTGROWTHUK report on Garden Communities: When Communities say no. Ten Campaign groups (including Lancaster group CLOUD) were brought together by Jon Reeds of Smart Growth UK and have produced this report which looks at the objections which have many similarities.
There is a section on Bailrigg garden village.

Greens say new housing figures still way too high to be achievable or sustainable. December 2017

The City Council passed the Local Plan at its December meeting, with a reduced target figure of 522 new homes per year compared to its previous aim of 675. However Green Councillor Abi Mills says: “This number is still not deliverable and the Government’s own new method for calculating need would bring the figure down to 426 – a much more achievable target. A too-high target means that developers may be able to secure permission for housing schemes in very undesirable locations.”  There will be a public examination of the Local Plan in autumn. Local group ‘CLOUD’ campaigns for more environmentally-sound housing development.


Local residents have formed a successful campaign group CLOUD ( Citizens of Lancaster Opposed to Unnecessary Development)

CLOUD are leading the campaign against the  Bailrigg Garden Village. 

Green councillors have voiced similar concerns at Council meetings about the impact of flooding, traffic congestion, air pollution and services, from the porposed 3500 new houses between Scotforth and Galgate. Contact Cloudbgv2017@gmail.com


North Lancashire Green Party response to Local Plan Consultation: February 2017

The Green Party is encouraging local residents to respond to the Local Plan consultation before it closes on 24th March 2017 – all comments will be made available to the Independent Examination which will held before adoption of the Plan in 2018. To find out how to comment on line please click link  or go to http://www.lancaster.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/about-the-local-plan

The on-line consultation is quite demanding of detail but you can skip to the comments section. Comments on the plan might mention:

⁃   Planning for fewer homes

⁃   Retaining the core strategy for urban concentration with brownfield first

⁃   Focus on low-carbon design

⁃   Build around existing infrastructure and use land of lesser landscape value.

Do also let City Councillors and your MP know your views and get involved with residents’ groups. Facebook groups for both Scotforth and Galgate residents have been set up.

See https://www.facebook.com/groups/GalgateCAG/   and https://www.facebook.com/groups/741407426037424/


For more details on the rationale for the above points please read below.

Green Public Meeting – Lancaster Methodist Church – Thursday 23rd February 2017

Around 45 people gathered to discuss the draft Local Plan with North Lancashire Greens during the final public consultation process. Councillor Tim Hamilton-Cox gave a presentation on the background to the draft Local Plan and pointed out some of its features. He began by reminding everyone of the 13500 new homes which is the City Council's 'objectively assessed need' for the period 2011-2031 – a rate of building 675 homes on average each year, more than twice the average building rate of the last fifteen years. The reasoning behind the Council’s very high expectation of housing need draws on the impact of an ageing population, anticipated population growth, and forecast increases in the numbers of jobs in the area, especially around Heysham and Lancaster University. As Tim explained, the reasoning is not supported by trend data or 'official' projections  but unfortunately full Council voted against an independent audit. He presented rental data from the Valuation Office Agency which showed a stable picture for average and median rents taking 2-bedroom properties as an example – suggestive of a balance between supply and demand. Policy needed to monitor 'market signals' like this.

The discussion focused on proposals in the Local Plan to develop three greenfield sites around Lancaster: on green belt to the north of Lancaster up to the Bay Gateway (1000 homes); to the east up to the M6 (1000 homes) and the so-called ‘Bailrigg Garden Village’ in the south towards Galgate (3500 homes). This last major new development will surround Lancaster University and the Health Innovation Campus, which is expected to provide new jobs. To serve development of this scale it is proposed that a reconfigured junction 33 onto the M6 will be built to bypass Galgate.

 A number of key points emerged from Tim’s presentation and comments from the floor in respect of the garden village:

⁃   The high cost of infrastructure required (new roads, junctions and bridges over the railway, schools, shops, meeting places) – who pays? This raised the issue – over which the council can have no control – of who should benefit from the uplift in land values once public policy has identified that land for development purposes when the cost of the infrastructure to access the land fell so much on the public purse.

⁃   The proposed road infrastructure includes not only a reconfigured J33 but bridges/roads from the A6 at Hazelrigg Lane and north at Lawson's Bridge across the railway to the 'spine road'; and road connections at the north-west and north-east parts of the proposed development to Ashton Rd. and Blea Tarn Rd. (ie over the M6), respectively.

⁃   Ebenezer Howard’s original garden village concept was of new, self-sufficient, areas of industry, housing and agriculture surrounded by countryside.

⁃   Bailrigg Garden Village will be contiguous with south Lancaster and a revised and expanded version of what was previously called ‘urban extension 1’.

⁃   Although there are proposals for 40% of  planned homes to be ‘affordable’, there are no proposals for low-carbon design (ie which might exceed building regulations), green energy generation or electric public transport alternatives. There is, however, a suggestion that a district heating scheme be installed.

⁃   The south Lancaster development would provide accommodation for people employed at the University but commuting to the Heysham industrial zone would be directed via the M6 to avoid transit through the city centre.

⁃   Nevertheless, there would be increased traffic pressure on the already over-used A6 route into Lancaster city centre.

⁃   The “landscape value” (beauty, archaeology, geology) of the proposed developments has not (yet) been sufficiently considered.

⁃   The potential for developers to cherry pick sites within planned areas, leading to piecemeal development and poor infrastructure exists.

⁃   Theo Routh, a recent graduate of Lancaster University and now Green party candidate, pointed out that the out-of-centre and landscaped nature of the campus had been a key reason for him to choose Lancaster and that wrapping the built environment around the campus undermined this 'selling point' to new students.

The presentation given by City Councillor Tim Hamilton-Cox at the public meeting on 23rd February explains in detail the background the the Local plan; why the Green party is challenging the 13,500 new houses numbers and the proposal for a ‘garden  village ‘ at Bailrigg.

Click here to open the presentation as a PDF.


Housing Plan and Land Allocation Update, Saturday 6th February 2016.

In a session of full council on 3rd February where the agenda item was headed 'Local Plan - Legal Advice' and the documents informing the item were 'exempt' from publication (i.e. confidential) there was more discussion about setting the new housing figures for the district. Respecting the confidentiality of the meeting it is still important to note that Labour and most Conservatives will not countenance any further invigilation of the housing requirement, i.e. the 13’000 to 14’000 new homes to be planned for in the period 2011-2031 - recommended by Turley, and so the land allocations process will go forward to identify the sites needed to fulfil that requirement.

Green councillors argue strongly that key assumptions - like the hugely optimistic jobs forecasts - which inform Turley's recommendation are skewed/flawed but most councillors are done with thinking  it through and just want to see a Land Allocations policy document in front of them at the earliest opportunity. The clear steer from officers (another document not in the public domain) is that south Lancaster (Whinney Carr, etc.) and north east Lancaster (that is the site known as UE2: north east of the Ridge, west of the M6) are to be promoted for development ahead of other greenfield/ green belt locations. Green Cllr Tim Hamilton-Cox said in the debate; "the argument over that housing requirement won't go away - not least because it is the polar opposite of evidence-based policy-making and environmental sustainability."

In the debate Tim referred to a planning consultant who has an impeccable pedigree as a former senior civil servant, former visiting fellow at Cambridge University's Centre for Planning and Housing Research, and as author of papers for the Town and Country Planning Association. He also audits the like of Turley's work and has been involved with over 15 council Local Plans determining housing requirements. He was available at a cost of £4-£6k to do a desktop audit of that now-enshrined 13’000-14’000 new homes requirement. But his services were not taken up.

The Land Allocations policy will come to full council towards the end of the year for final approval (almost certainly with a choice to approve or not, with no amendments possible) - before it is submitted to a public examination in front of a planning inspector some time in 2017. It is possible that residents' groups could come together to form what is known as a rule 6 party directly involved in the examination - as was the case with Whinney Carr in 2002.


Greens pledge to fight housing numbers plan

Green councillors have labelled planning consultants Turley's claim that the district has to plan for 650-700 new houses per year until 2031 as “not based on common-sense or a sound, evidential basis.”

There are two crucial areas of dispute. Firstly, Turley estimates a large increase in the city's population through new people coming into the district. This increase is at odds with official projections and the trend of average population change since the early 1980s. Secondly, Turley forecasts job growth at a rate that is more than five times the level the district saw over a 13-year period from 2000.

Cllr Tim Hamilton-Cox says, "City councillors have not yet not debated this housing target, so it can still be changed. Allocating too much land for housing means developers pick off the most attractive bits and that leads potentially to piecemeal development and insufficient provision of essentials like walk-to shops and school places. Brownfield land, and the types of housing (truly affordable) which are actually needed, risk being sidelined if it's all left to the big private housebuilders.

We have a duty to base decisions on sound evidence, and be prepared to react to new evidence as it becomes available.”

Green Councillors say that the City Council’s new local plan will be a ‘developer’s free-for-all’ and will allow wholesale destruction of the countryside around Lancaster. Around 8,000 houses could be planned for South Lancaster. The Green party wants the provision of social rented housing, to clear the council house waiting list, as a focus of housing policy – rather than executive homes on greenfield sites.The background to the current situation is complicated and relies on a variety of estimates of population growth figures, 'hidden' household figures and estimated job growth.

Cllr Jon Barry explains: In the Green party's view, it is very difficult to predict demand for the next year, let alone 20 years. And, if you make different (and we'd argue more realistic) assumptions about population growth, job creation and household size, then you get a much lower target.” “Lancaster district's population grew by 3,800 between the 2001 and 2011 censuses. The assumption used in the target calculations is that it will grow by another 20,000 over 20 years. There were 2,513 houses built in the ten years from 2002/03 to 2012/13. However, now the recommended target is to build more than 6,000 houses every 10 years.”

City Councillor Caroline Jackson has written a critique (please click here to open PDF document) of the interpretation of the figures used by Turley in their report. We would welcome feedback on this. 

Land Supply. In addition to the actual numbers city councillors are challenging the Council's 'Housing Land Supply Statement'. The existing statement leaves the district's green fields vulnerable to developers because there is not enough housing in the pipeline to meet the 5 year land supply figure.Green Cabinet member, Tim Hamilton-Cox has been leading on this area:"We question the logic behind the five year figure because it includes an alleged cumulative 'shortfall' of 1,695 unbuilt homes backdated to 2003m plus a 20% 'buffer' because of 'persistant under-delivery' against the plan target of 400 homes per year. However, our research shows that the number of new homes built in the 10 years to 2011 more than matched the district's rise in population. Our priority should be protecting green spaces whilst meeting real housing need for rented social and affordable private housing" The full Turley report titled 'Lancaster Districts Independent Housing Requirement Study 2015' is available as a PDF by clicking here, and on the City Council website here: http://www.lancaster.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/people-homes-jobs-plan-district-s-future/ The slides from the presentation which addressed some of the key flawed forecasts, projections and analysis in Turley's Strategic Housing Market Assessment presented to the public meeting on November 17, are available as a Powerpoint (click here) and as a PDF (click here)



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