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644-home scheme near Lancaster University gets thumbs down

Plans for the new homes on land near Lancaster University and the new Health Innovation Campus have been rejected

Plans for 644 new houses near Lancaster University have been thrown out by councillors.

The major development was earmarked for land off Bailrigg Lane, in a proposal by Gladwin Developments, with plans to demolish Low Hill House and build up to 644 new homes, a small local centre and a community hall, and green spaces with three play areas.

But the scheme, which would have been built across 39.36 hectares of land close to the M6 and the university's new £41m Health Innovation Campus (currently under construction), the university itself and existing houses in south Scotforth, has been rejected on a number of grounds.

A report by Lancaster City Council’s planning team said "there is no certainty that education or transport infrastructure would come forward to support the level of housing sought".

They also questioned the proposed design, the site's proximity to a wind turbine potentially causing shadow flicker for residents, and whether the site would be at risk of flooding. 

The council received objections to the scheme from several local organisations, including Ellel and Scotforth Parish Councils, Bailrigg Residents Group, the Dynamo Cycle Campaign and the British Horse Society.

There were 211 objections from members of the public.

Concerns included that the new housing would require a new primary school in the area, the risk of flooding, loss of habitat and a proposed ‘spine road’ through the development site from Hala Hill to the Health Innovation Campus "could affect the rural heritage of Bailrigg Village".

Environmental Health said that traffic associated with the proposed development would impact on the air quality in Lancaster and Galgate.

Developers Gladman Developments said: "The vision for the site is to create a sensitively designed and high-quality place which sets a positive precedent for the design and development of Bailrigg Garden Village.

In their design and access statement, submitted with the planning application, they said it would create a "new neighbourhood where high quality urban design will promote a sustainable, attractive place to live, will define a strong sense of place and will create a sense of community for its new residents" along with "a network of connected and high quality open spaces to provide a distinct sense of place and deliver a range of recreational, health, landscape and ecological benefits".

The council report said: "The site is located within the Broad Area of Growth within the Local Plan in relation to the Garden Village.

"The proposal would undermine the integrated and co-ordinated approach in providing the infrastructure requirement to support the level of development proposed.

"Given it is important that necessary infrastructure which is both local and strategic in nature is delivered in the right place, at the right time, there is no certainty that education or transport infrastructure would come forward to support the level of housing sought.

"It is difficult to categorically conclude that that the number of dwellings proposed and the constraints within the site would allow for a high-quality design and overall sense of place to be created.

"The southeast area of the application site is 700 metres of a commercial wind turbine. The proposal would introduce a form of residential development within the area which is identified to being the most likely affected by shadow flicker.

"The application site is within Flood zones 1, 2 and 3. The applicant has submitted a Flood Risk Assessment which identifies that the site is subject to other forms of flood risk, namely fluvial, ground water, surface water, from sewer/mains and infrastructure failure. The applicant has failed to demonstrate within the application that there to be sequentially acceptable sites which are not subject to a risk of flooding to enable the Local Planning Authority to reach a view if there are no areas with the lowest risk of flooding in which to steer new development towards."

The refusal of this application comes just a few months after wider plans to build thousands of new homes and a new road south of Lancaster were officially put on hold.

The overall plan could have seen at least 3,500 new homes built south of Lancaster - with a figure of up to 9,185 having also been quoted - as well as road and transport changes.

The idea for the Bailrigg Garden Village was to create a distinct community, with new homes and a mixed-use village centre between Lancaster city centre and Galgate.

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