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Planners say 644-home scheme near Lancaster University should get thumbs down

The new homes are earmarked for land near Lancaster University and the new Health Innovation Campus

Plans for 644 new houses near Lancaster University should be refused say council planners.

Lancaster City Council planning team has given four reasons why the Gladman Developments scheme earmarked for fields and woodland off Bailrigg Lane should be turned down - in a report published today.

The outline plans are 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.

Developers want to build on 39.36 hectares of land close to the M6, Bailrigg, the university's new £41m Health Innovation Campus (currently under construction), the university itself and existing houses in south Scotforth.

But council planning officers say "there is no certainty that education or transport infrastructure would come forward to support the level of housing sought".

They have 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 has 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 include 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.

The plans will go before Lancaster City Council's planning regulatory committee on December 4, for a final decision.

The meeting will be held at Morecambe Town Hall, starting at 10.30am, and is open to the public.

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".

Today's 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."

Talks on this planning application will come 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.

Partners involved in the scheme - Lancashire County Council, Lancaster City Council and Homes England - decided to suspend further work on the project and "re-evaluate" the proposals, earlier this year.

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 partners said the decision came "amid increasing costs driven by construction inflation in recent years, which have increased the pressures on and risk to the public purse, and other circumstances that would impact on the final delivery".

The proposed new South Lancaster to M6 road scheme would have included a new road between the M6 at junction 33 and the proposed Bailrigg Garden Village in south Lancaster, as well as a new Park and Ride on Hazelrigg Lane.

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.

Read more: 'Garden village' plan for thousands of new homes and new road south of Lancaster officially put on hold - Beyond Radio

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