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Residents delighted as plans for 78 homes in Lancaster meadow turned down

Residents and councillors celebrate the decision to refuse planning permission to a new housing scheme in Lancaster

Residents are delighted after plans to build 78 new houses on a much-loved meadow in Lancaster were refused.

Councillors voted unanimously to turn down the new homes earmarked for land close to the residential area of Watery Lane and Whernside Road, and near the Vale of Lune Rugby Club and Barley Cop Woods.

The decision was made at Morecambe Town Hall on Monday.

Lancaster City Council planning officers had recommended the scheme be approved on the 4.1 hectare green space, which is used by children for play.

But the Planning Regulatory Committee of elected councillors voted to refuse planning permission.

Councillor Jean Parr, who led the campaign on behalf of residents, said afterwards: "I'm absolutely over the moon.

"We really really did not expect this result today and I'm just ecstatic, personally because I live there, and also for the residents I represent."

LISTEN NOW to campaigners speaking about their delight at the decision:

Earlier on Monday morning, residents and councillors who had campaigned against the proposals, spoke out in the town hall chamber.

Councillor Parr, a county councillor who also represents Skerton West on the city council, was in tears as she said: "You don't know what you've got until it's gone.

"I found solace during the lockdown walking my dog on the meadow. Without that, I don't know what I would have done."

She said the meadow was "irreplaceable".

Peter Lovett-Horn, who has lived on Watery Lane for more than 50 years next to a house which would have been demolished to make way for the development, said new homes would be "a blot on the landscape".

"Take away the Watery Lane space and that's it, the end of green space," he said.

Alan Sandham, who has lived in the area for 47 years, said residents believed the development would cause "an unacceptable impact on highway safety".

Mr Sandham said: "Watery Lane is already busy enough and narrows towards the junction with Torrisholme Road, with parked vehicles being an additional danger.

"One child has said 'Don't make my street unsafe.' Other residents have said 'Save our space'".

Other residents contacted the council prior to the meeting to say that "granting consent would be a disgrace".

Comments included that the scheme "is unsustainable development and must be rejected.

"Visual impacts would be imposing and overbearing. Traffic impacts will worsen despite the ‘experts’ suggesting otherwise.

"Local children play on the field – its loss to housing will have impact on the quality of lives of many. The environmental impacts are significant with zero added value to the local community.

"A public inquiry should take place if the application is approved."

Residents also held a protest on the meadow. Photo below by Councillor Phil Black. 

Daniel Hughes, representing the developers Oakmere Homes, said at Monday's meeting that the scheme would "deliver much-needed housing in the local area" and had "numerous benefits with no objections from statutory consultees".

Lancaster City Council planners, in a report published ahead of the meeting, said the "adverse impacts do not outweigh the benefits".

"The case is very finely balanced," concludes the planners' report.

"Whilst there are clear adverse impacts arising from the development, these impacts (alone and in combination) are not considered to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the proposal (namely, housing)."

The report also says: "Other benefits arising from the development include modest improvements to the pedestrian route between Watery Lane and towards Ryelands Park along Torrisholme Road, a new formal access between the site and Barley Cop Wood (enabling existing and future residents to enjoy the open space on and off site), the provision of employment and upskilling through the construction phases and the knock-on effect to the supply chain (securing short-term economic benefits) as well as appropriate maintenance and management of the landscaped areas."

Councillor Sandra Thornberry of the planning committee, though, proposed that the new housing be refused.

She gave numerous reasons including "tight access" to the site and that the housing design "has been criticised as bland".

"I think we are dealing here with an area here that has social and environmental importance," she said.

Councillor Janice Hanson agreed, saying that "it seems like a wonderful area that shouldn't be removed".

Councillor Tim Dant said it was "very difficult to find anything in favour" of the scheme.

Oakmere Homes did not wish to officially comment on the decision but Beyond Radio understands that they are likely to appeal against it.

Related stories:

Residents' fury at plans for 78 new homes in Lancaster fields - Beyond Radio

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