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Councillors speak out against plans for 200 new homes near Bay Gateway

Morecambe town councillors Brett Cooper and Joanne Ainscough spoke out against the proposed new housing scheme

Councillors have spoken out against plans to build up to 200 new homes on land near the Bay Gateway.

Morecambe Town Council has decided to object to the proposed new housing development, following a vote on Thursday night.

This comes after an outline application for up to 200 homes in fields close to Powder House Lane, Russell Drive and Slyne Road was sent to Lancaster City Council in December.

Many nearby residents are against the plans for several reasons, including concerns over drainage and increased traffic in the Torrisholme area.

Morecambe town councillors agreed with them as they spoke out against the planned scheme during a meeting at Morecambe Town Hall.

Councillor Brett Cooper, from the Morecambe Bay Independents, said he "shared the concerns residents have put forward".

"It's not a case of nimbyism," he told fellow councillors.

"It's a lot of houses in an area which doesn't have the infrastructure. Nearby schools are at capacity. There's no GP surgery in that area for people who are going to be moving there."

Councillor Joanne Ainscough of Labour said: "I grew up on Russell Drive so I know those fields like the back of my hand. 

"They are totally inappropriate for building on."

Councillor Claire Cozler, chair of the town council, said access to the site would be "appalling".

And Councillor David Whitaker, also of Labour, said: "It's not a suitable site, it's going to have an environmental impact."

Lancaster City Council, as the local planning authority, will make a final decision on whether to allow the scheme, in due course.

A view of the land where the housing is proposed, from the back garden of a resident of Russell Drive

In the meantime they are asking residents and other organisations - including Morecambe Town Council - for their views on the scheme.

At Thursday's meeting, Councillor Cooper proposed that the town council lodge an objection to the plans, which was agreed after a vote. 

CPRE, the countryside charity, recently wrote to the city council objecting to the scheme, saying "there is no need for the housing on green field land".

Lancaster Civic Vision, local heritage champions, have also objected, saying it's "not surprising that so many local residents and other consultee organisations are so strongly opposed".

National Highways have formally recommended that the planning application not be decided before March 8 and that "further information is needed" for them to "form a final view" on the plans.

But the Environment Agency and Historic England have both said they had no objection to the scheme.

The plans have been submitted by local developer Warren Cadman of Wrenman Strategic Land.

The new houses would be of a range of sizes and types, up to three storeys, and 20 per cent of them would be affordable housing.

Affordable housing is classed as housing deemed affordable to those with a household income at or below the median as rated by government.

The proposals also include public open space, drainage infrastructure, road and active travel infrastructure, play, and HV pylons/ easement; and a green area of 2.4 hectares comprising public open space, drainage infrastructure, retained landscape features, active travel routes, proposed planting, ecological mitigation, play and HV pylons/easement.

Mr Cadman is also proposing improvements to Slyne Road and Hexham Road, including widening, an emergency vehicle access point to Powder House Lane; and active travel links to Powder House Lane and an existing track leading to Lancaster Road.

A statement on behalf of Mr Cadman issued with the planning application, says "a robust and inclusive public consultation process" had been carried out.

The proposed site is around 10.37 hectares of land divided into fields by a mix of hedgerows and boundary trees.

"Some comments were made in relation to the highways in particular the impact additional vehicle trips would have on the local highway network and junctions and concerns," says the statement, which is available to read in the Lancaster City Council website planning section.

"This is mainly concerned with increased traffic travelling along Slyne Road and Russell Drive going towards Morecambe and use of Slyne Road as an access road to the A483 via Hasty Brow Road.

"A Transport Assessment has been undertaken to inform and support the development...informed by a modelling exercise of traffic flows. This states that given the scale of the site and housing quantum, it is considered that a single access point from Slyne Road is sufficient to serve the proposed development.

"Concerns regarding the width of Slyne Road between Russell Drive and Hexham Road are acknowledged and therefore road widening is proposed as part of the development to address this.

"The highway impacts of the traffic predicted to be generated by the proposed development have also been properly assessed at key junctions on the road network. Those impacts have been demonstrated to be negligible and do not meet the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework)’s definition of severe.

"A review of accidents on the local highway network does not indicate any correlations that would suggest that highway condition, layout or design were significant contributory factors in the accidents. Likewise, the walking, cycling and public transport opportunities at the site constitute alternative modes of travel to the car which are considered to be realistic modes of travel for a range of different journey types.

"Overall, it was concluded that there would not be an unacceptable impact on highway safety and the residual cumulative impacts on the road network would not be severe, and as such the proposed development is therefore considered acceptable with regard to transport.

"Concern was also expressed over the loss of the natural environment on the site, with particular concern over the use of greenfield land.

"The loss of less than 20 hectares of best and most versatile agricultural land is generally considered of minor significance.

"It is also noteworthy that as the site is within the Urban Boundary, it is not designated as Green Belt or AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). This is rare in the context of Lancaster and the site represents one of few opportunities to accommodate development without encroaching on those designations.

"Another issue for concern was the drainage for the proposed residential development. Existing residents stated that the existing drainage for the area is already under pressure due to new developments in the area.

"The proposed development is at low risk in terms of flooding from all sources when the impacts of proposed mitigation in relation to tidal flooding is considered."

The statement also said "there would likely be a short-term impact from construction activities at nearby receptors".

In October, residents who live near the land spoke to Beyond Radio about their concerns about the development.

Russell Drive

"Nobody I've spoken to is in favour of this," said one of the residents.

"Some people haven't heard about it.

"We want as many people as possible to voice their concerns.

"With 200 houses, we're talking about three or four hundred cars, and HGVs. I can't even imagine what that would be like through the village."

Another resident, who has lived on Russell Drive for more than 50 years, said: "Access is the number one issue.

"Also the possible affect on facilities, drainage and loss of habitat. The trees and fields are full of animals.

"And a loss of privacy. We sit out at night, we can see the stars and the moon, people are worried about security."

People are welcome to comment on the planning application, reference number 23/01384/OUT.

Information on how to comment on applications can be found in the planning section of the Lancaster City Council website.

Read more: Controversial plans for up to 200 new homes near Bay Gateway go in for decision - Beyond Radio

Residents begin fight against plans for 200 new homes near Bay Gateway - Beyond Radio

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