CLOUD response to BGV Action Plan: Our response to the questionnaire
Do you agree with our proposed Core Spatial Objectives
(pg. 12)? These are to shape how we plan the Garden Village and
growth in South Lancaster
The Core Spatial Objectives are based upon aspirations rather than evidence. The clear separation between Garden village and existing settlements is hard to sustain on two grounds. The granting of Planning Permission on Ward Field Farm site in May 2018 has already eroded any separation from Galgate, while the probable access route from Hazelrigg Lane to the Garden Village crosses the northern edge of any area of separation. Going north towards Lancaster there is little discernible gap between Bailrigg garden village (BGV) and Scotforth. Indeed much of the development was previously designated as an Urban Extension. It is hard to see how an Urban Extension becomes separated from Scotforth.
On p. 9 it is stated ‘The Garden village and what it offers should support University success in business incubation and spin outs’. The Health Innovation Campus (HIC) has its origins many years before Bailrigg garden village was thought of. The relationship with business incubation and spin out is very unclear. Indeed the University’s own website talks of business support for 300 companies across Lancashire rather than on site. Experience of spin outs etc in Lancaster context suggest slow burn and slow development with small usually micro businesses. How does this create demand for housing on the scale envisaged? The current HIC is phase 1 - scaled back because of gap in ERDF funding. Where will funding for future HIC expansion come from?
2. Do you agree with the draft vision for Bailrigg Garden Village? (pg. 14-15).
The aspirations of Bailrigg garden village are just that with very flaky evidence base so it is very hard to form a view of the reality. Statements such as ‘ The Garden Village will be a natural extension and expression of the place it sits within, providing a proposition that is complementary to city and university whilst being a vital economic catalyst for the Lancaster City Region’, (p.15) are meaningless and create more questions than answers. How does building BGV create a catalyst for economic growth -other than employment in the building industry? What on earth is ‘a proposition’ that is complementary to city and university. When did Lancaster develop a City Region?
3. Do you have any further comments or suggestions to make on this section?
We would like to be constructive but in the Local Plan BGV reads as though it is bolted on. This report contains many fine words and phrases but they are unrelated to much by way of hard evidence. For instance on page 17 there is reference to a wide range of local jobs? What are they ? There is reference to Lancaster University Masterplan pp18-19. The Masterplan on the University Website contains no page numbers it is so hard check. There is a statement that by 2025 the University aims to employ 4,000 staff on campus. What is that number based on, what type of jobs and how will the growth be achieved? Currently around 2,500 are employed in academic and non academic jobs on campus, this took 50 years to reach. What are the peculiar circumstances that will accelerate growth at what would be an unprecedented rate?
Planning the Garden Village
Q4 Do you have any comments or suggestions to make on this Section?
We would like to start from a position of frustration. Why did Lancaster City Council wait until the Local Plan had been delivered to the Secretary of State before releasing this report and series of Drop In Sessions at extremely short notice? BGV is after all a significant part of the Local Plan and was clearly unfinished and vague.
I am unconvinced by the OAN numbers and reliance on Turley. I also wonder about whether Lancaster’s position as a University town may lead to an adjustment in OAN.
Healthy green environment
Q5 Do you agree with our approach to planning a Healthy Green Environment (pg. 36)? We see the right approach to this as essential to create a sustainable and attractive Garden Village
We are especially unconvinced by the plan for managing flood risk .
On p.43 reference is made to the Ou Beck and the Burrow Beck. This account fails to mention the Health Innovation Campus which is to be drained into the Ou Beck and indeed the Burrow Beck. Planning permission for this development was given before either Storm Desmond or the Floods of November 2017. Even more worrying is the statement on p. 43:
‘Whitley Beck poses some flood risk to Galgate but is outside the plan area. The residential areas in Scotforth that flooded last year from Burrow Beck are upstream of the plan area.’
. This statement runs in direct contradiction to the statement on p. 44 ‘ How to achieve net gains for communities downstream with development designed to help reduce and better manage flood risks to communities downstream.’ Given Whitley Beck was indeed a major cause of flooding in Galgate in 2017 but is outside the plan area, how can Bailrigg garden village mitigate this particular flood risk?
Q6 Do you have any further comments or suggestions to make on this section?
Returning to the separation of BGV from other settlements I felt that the statement on p49 was revealing : ‘There are many ways in which meaningful landscape separation between the Garden Village and the urban area of Lancaster might be achieved involving landscape choice and subjective judgement. Design and landscaping can be used to augment perceptions of separation.’ This gives the sense of smoke and mirrors and the creation of an illusion, rather than genuine separation and did little to reassure me.
Well connected people and places
Q7 The overall approach to transport in Lancaster is established via the Lancaster District Highways and Transport Masterplan. Do you agree that the Garden Village should be structured around sustainable
transport provision and particularly, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) (pg.56)?
Q8 Do you have any further comments or suggestions to make on this Section?
We found it hard to gain a clear view of how Bus Rapid transport would work, how it would relate to the existing bus service and how it would run, especially through Scotforth. At the Drop in I asked about buses in Scotforth and how they planned to handle the fact that people parked on the road. This really wasn’t resolved, apparently there will be ‘trade offs’. It is not clear how people will be persuaded to use the buses given the high fares charged by Stagecoach. Where will people work who live in BGV? This is surely the starting point for planning a bus system. It was not clear how the Bus Rapid Transport would operate within the University or where the ‘transport hub’ would be - would it be a bus stop in the Underpass? Seemingly the Bus Rapid Transit would not extend to Galgate because Galgate was outside BGV. There is the sense that this is a lost opportunity to improve quality of life in the village.
I am not convinced that the combination of road infrastructure, bus and cycle superhighway have been adequately costed. Where does the figure of £130m (p.63) come from, how has it been arrived at and what would be the cost per house? Given private investment is needed even if Housing Infrastructure Fund money is made available this is surely a very relevant statistic. Recent history of cost overruns on road infrastructure - Bay Gateway and Broughton bypass - are not encouraging.
So much is untested regarding journeys to work, unpredicted consequences of road changes and the potential for adding to flooding issues in Galgate and traffic congestion through Scotforth, at the Pointer Roundabout and on Ashton Road.
Homes and Neighbourhoods for All
Q9 Do you agree that we should seek higher densities of development where appropriate, for example in and around the village centre (pg.68)? We see this as important to making places that
work and are distinctive and have character.
We would be far happier to see density in an urban setting rather than on a greenfield site.
Q10 Do you have any further comments or suggestions to make on this section?
How robust are the OANs provided by Turley Economics. These seem exaggerated and have been already revised downwards. We are especially sceptical about the employment projections for South Lancaster.
Q11 Which of the initial spatial options do you prefer? We present three options but we invite variations or alternative also.
All 3 appear flawed because of the high infrastructure costs needed to develop the village and all leave practical issues unanswered. Option 3 is especially problematic as development is adjacent to Ashton Road and also to the narrowing of the road from the development to the Boot and Shoe cross roads.
Q13 Do you agree with our preferred Village Centre location around Burrow Road? We see think it’s important to be in a readily accessible location with opportunity for character and identity.
Describing Burrow Road as a ready made ‘main street’ without any disadvantages ignores the very real difficulties of heading south down Highland Brow for anyone who currently lives in the vicinity. Does this mean heading down to Salford Road and the A6 traffic lights? Very similar to the road into Scotforth from Ashton road. Salford road cannot handle the existing traffic flows, let alone more traffic.
Q14 Do you agree with our Initial Transport Proposals including indicative transport spine (pg.92-93) and any of the illustrative route options suggested for a Cycle Superhighway (pg. 94 -95)?
We are concerned by how much is dependent on aspirations for the road network. I am keen to see people walking and cycling but do not find the current plan convincing.
Q15 Do have any comments to make on the Draft Sustainability Appraisal
(SA) of the Initial Spatial Options? The SA will test the emerging proposals for their contribution to sustainable development.
There is much use of the terms green and sustainable in this and earlier sections.There is nothing remotely green about building houses on green fields or a reconfigured motorway junction and associated road. A recent report commissioned by the CPRE showed that building roads adds to congestion and does little to solve air quality. https://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/transport/roads/item/4543-the-end-of-the-road-challenging-the-road-building-consensus