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Response to Main Modifications to the LancasterLocal Plan, September 2019

All references are to SPLA_DPD_Schedule_Modifications_Aug19.pdf

Referring to the Guidance Notes on how to submit a representation and to the questions set out in the Online Representation Form, CLOUD does not wish to submit any representations on grounds of legal compliance (ie Question 2a).  Our representations are on grounds of soundness (Question 2b), which test of soundness (Question 3) and what modifications are needed (Question 4). These are detailed against each of the Main Modifications set out below.  

 

SPLA_ MOD_ 01, Chapter 4, Policy  SO4 p.21.  

We trust that the aspiration in this Main Modification is a commitment to resolute action on air quality.  However, on 9th May 2018, a meeting of the Planning and Highways Regulatory Committee approved an application to build 70 houses on a greenfield site at Ward Field Farm on the A6.  This was in spite of objections by, among others, the Council’s own Air Quality Officer. 

Response to Question 2b - not sound. Question 3 - Local Plan is not positively prepared. Question 4 - To adopt a more resolute approach to air quality issues than has hitherto been the case.

 

SPLA_ MOD_ 05, Chapter 9,  Policy SP6, Pages 38-41, Para 9.19    

The reason for this modification is stated as " To provide greater clarity in the Local Plan and to reflect discussions had at the Examination on Days 1,2,3,4 and 9".  On Day 9 Mr Neil McDonald, on behalf of CLOUD, presented evidence to show that housing need was substantially lower than forecast in the Local Plan (this evidence is summarised in documents HS24 and HD62).  Main Modification 05 does not reflect this evidence. It is true that the modification does introduce a "stepped approach" to the annual housing delivery figures, but it retains the same overall total as in the original plan.  In order to provide an accurate summary of what was said at the Day 9 Hearing, the Reason for Change column needs to be rewritten to make it clear that Main Modification 05 does not reflect the evidence and argument presented on behalf of CLOUD. The existing wording gives the impression that the modification addresses and resolves CLOUD's objections to the 522 annual housing target; this is not the case. 

Response to Question 2b - not sound. Question 3 - Local Plan is not justified.  Question 4 - Either amend the Reason for Change column as detailed above or (preferably) carry out a proper reassessment of housing need numbers using the latest available ONS data.

 

.  

SPLA_ MOD_ 8, Chapter 11, Policy SP10, p.48  

These 2 new sentences are welcome, but do not go far enough. Developer contributions need to be secured, not just sought.  We propose amending the end of the 1st sentence to read “....then funding will be sought and secured via developer contributions before development is started.”  

Response to Question 2b - not sound. Question 3 -Local Plan is not effective.  Question 4 - amend the wording as proposed above.


 

SPLA_ MODS_ 9 & 10, Chapter 12,  Policy SG1, pp.49-55   

These 2 Main Modifications are just aspirational in character, with the provision of specific plans being put off to the forthcoming Lancaster South Area Action Plan DPD.  In addition Statement of Common Ground HD08_SoCG (re Policy SG1 - Bailrigg Garden Village) would now permit development in advance of the finalisation of the Lancaster South Plan.  It is unclear how far these developments would be bound by garden village principles or indeed whether they would be in addition to the 3,500 houses already proposed. 

We maintain that this approach is unsound and conflicts with the following advice on the preparation of local plans:

 

“ A Local Plan is an opportunity for the local planning authority to set out a positive vision for the area, but the plan should also be realistic about what can be achieved and when (including in relation to infrastructure). This means paying careful attention to providing an adequate supply of land, identifying what infrastructure is required and how it can be funded and brought on stream at the appropriate time; and ensuring that the requirements of the plan as a whole will not prejudice the viability of development.

Early discussion with infrastructure and service providers is particularly important to help understand their investment plans and critical dependencies. The local planning authority should also involve the Local Enterprise Partnership at an early stage in considering the strategic issues facing their area, including the prospects for investment in infrastructure.

 

The Local Plan should make clear, for at least the first 5 years, what infrastructure is required, who is going to fund and provide it, and how it relates to the anticipated rate and phasing of development. This may help in reviewing the plan and in development management decisions…..Where the deliverability of critical infrastructure is uncertain then the plan should address the consequences of this, including possible contingency arrangements and alternative strategies.“

(Source : Department for Communities and Local Government   Part of:  Planning practice guidance and Planning system  published: 19 May 2016  Last updated: 28 July 2017, Paragraph: 001 Reference ID: 12-001-20170728)

In addition CLOUD objects to these Modifications  on the following grounds :

 

  •  We provided clear evidence at the Hearings to show that whatever jobs growth Lancaster University may generate (through the Health Innovation Campus) is going to be across the NW region of England and not within the Lancaster South Broad Area of Growth.

  • There is no recognition of Lancaster City Council’s recent climate emergency declaration. We accept that there is reference to minimising the impact of climate change (MOD 10 Proposed Amendment xi), but the revised wording provides little change of substance and fails to address the gravity of the issues raised in the Council’s climate emergency declaration..  This constitutes an abdication of responsibility. Likewise there are references to reducing flood risk from new development, and not to preventing the existing reality of flood risk in South Lancaster (and elsewhere in the city). Reducing the actuality of climate change, of flooding and of air pollution should determine what developments should be allowed and where. 

Response to Question 2b - not sound. Question 3 - Local Plan is not positively prepared.  Question 4 - postpone approval of Bailrigg Garden Village and associated south Lancaster developments until (i) a realistic evaluation of the need for and costs of this development are available and (ii) a proper evaluation has been carried out under the terms of the Council’s climate emergency declaration.

SPLA_ MOD_ 12, Chapter 12, Policy SG3, p.60  

The proposed amendment may, as claimed, provide a degree more clarity.  However it fails to address the evidence presented by CLOUD during the Hearings and in our submitted Hearing Statement on the extent and severity of recent flooding, especially in November 2017. The Galgate and the South Lancaster Flood Groups were informed by the Environment Agency in August 2019 that the cost of fixing the problem is exceptionally high and beyond their budget. .  The Local Plan remains deficient in not addressing the severity of the flooding problem and the lack of funding to resolve it.  

Response to Question 2b - not sound. Question 3 - Local Plan is not effective.  Question 4 - carry out a comprehensive and costed assessment of flood risk across the Lancaster district and the measures needed to counter these risks.


 

SPLA_ MOD_ 14, Chapter 13, Policy SG6, pp. 63-66, paras 13.13-20.  

The revised Canal Corridor proposals, with mixed use elements, are a welcome alternative to the retail emphasis in the original  scheme. The job creation opportunities are a particularly positive element - and may generate more employment than in the Lancaster South Broad Location of Growth.   However, the changes which this Main Modification proposes , taken with the major changes to the ONS housing need forecasts (albeit not properly recognised in the Main Modifications) shows that the Local Plan is woefully out of date and certainly not fit to cover the period to 2034.  

Response to Question 2b - not sound. Question 3 - Local Plan is not positively prepared.  Question 4 - Withdraw the existing Local Plan and rework it to reflect current and changed circumstances.

 

SPLA_ MOD_16,  Chapter 13, Policy SG8, p.78

Criterion I needs strengthening to state that ‘To achieve this, new development will fund….’  in place of the existing wording which merely states that this “is expected…”

Response to Question 2b - not sound. Question 3 - Local Plan is not effective.  Question 4 - amend the wording as proposed above.

 

 

SPLA_MOD_18, Chapter 15, Policy SG10, p 86

Same point as at MOD 16. 

 

SPLA_ MOD_ 26, Chapter 18, Policy EC3, pp. 110-11.  

The clarifications introduced by this modification are welcome, but need to be further strengthened.to address the following issues. It is essential that the traffic generated must NOT be allowed to access or leave the site of the Agri Business Centre  along the A6 through Galgate. Also it is essential that the site is not visible from the Lancaster Canal – including the canal cut down to Glasson Dock – or from the A6. Also essential is that the Agri Business Centre is not visually an extension of Galgate, and this will require a substantial green belt area of separation south of the marina and north of the site.  In no circumstances should this Agri-Business Centre be allowed to spread to the east side of the A6. These obligations must be written in to the Plan.

Response to Question 2b - not sound. Question 3 - Local Plan is not positively prepared.  Question 4 - amend the wording as proposed above.

 

SPLA_ MOD_ 48, Chapter 22,  Policy EN8,p.168  

As elsewhere in the Local Plan, this modification is essentially just aspirational in character.  Specific definition, eg for areas of separation, are postponed to the Lancaster South Action Plan.  It is CLOUD’s contention that it is unsound for Bailrigg Garden Village/South Lancaster to be presented for approval on this aspirational basis within the current Local Plan - this decision should be deferred until a full evaluation and costings etc are available.

In respect of the proposals for areas around Galgate, CLOUD wishes to register the point that currently   Galgate has visual boundaries. It embraces properties on Chapel Lane and Stoney Lane, on Main Road (the A6), and on and off Salford Road, Highland Brow and Conder Green Road as far west as the Lancaster Canal.  It is frequently referred to in Planning documents as ‘sustainable’. But it is surrounded by green fields, and, currently, it is therefore separated from Scotforth, Hala and Bowerham. It needs to be defined as an Urban Setting Landscape (USL) in the Local Plan so that developers will be prevented from encroaching on those green fields (as they have recently been already allowed to do), and so that ribbon development on the A6 and on fields separating Galgate from south Lancaster will be preserved.  A zone of separation from Scotforth should similarly be defined. Especially the areas of separation need to be marked as such on the eventual plan for the Lancaster South Broad Location of Growth. Developments, including the proposed road links from the M6 to the garden village must not be allowed to intrude.

Response to Question 2b - not sound. Question 3 - Local Plan is not justified.  Question 4 - withdraw the Local Plan and proper evaluation and costings are available.


 

SPLA_MOD_50, Chapter 22, Policy SC2, p. 171  

CLOUD opposes the loss of Freeman’s Wood. This removes woodland which should be a local recreational amenity; housing development on the site will only add to traffic congestion along the quay; it will worsen congestion and air quality pollution in the city centre; and it is not compatible with the Council’s commitment to addressing the climate emergency we face. 

Response to Question 2b - not sound. Question 3 - The Local Plan is not justified. Question 4 - retain Freeman’s Wood as it currently exists.

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