LCC Reference: 20/00305/OUT Subject: Outline planning application for up to 55 residential units and creation of a new access Proposed Location: Land At Grid Reference 347281 459157 Ashton Road Lancaster Lancashire
At the Local Plan Hearings a Statement of Common Ground meant that ‘ policy SG1 will allow development within the broad location for growth in advance of the Lancaster South Area Action Plan DPD being adopted, but only in what the Inspector has described as ‘exceptional circumstances’ without prejudice to the delivery of the wider Bailrigg Garden Village (including its infrastructure requirements) and which would not undermine the integrated and co-ordinated approach to the wider Bailrigg Garden Village development that this site forms part of’.
The current application, 20/00305/OUT by Story Homes 20/00305/OUT is for up to 55 houses.
This application raises a number of key questions:
How has the Climate Emergency been addressed?
How accessible is the site for journeys to work, schools, shopping, healthcare?
Will the new development be car dependent?
How is surface water run off to be dealt with?
What are the implications for neighbouring settlements, especially Galgate and Scotforth?
How well do the developers address the very considerable concerns raised repeatedly by Highways England for South Lancaster?In what ways are the circumstances behind this
Transport The development is likely to be car dependent for a number of reasons:
There is no easily accessible employment, schools, medical services or shops.
Road safety on Ashton Road (A588) is a particular concern. This road has been identified as one of the most dangerous roads in the UK. The stretch between Pinewood Close and the Pointer Roundabout is unattractive for cycling (see Dynamo objection) and for pedestrians. To walk to Booths supermarket involves crossing Ashton road as there is no footpath on the east side and the pavement is unlit, too narrow for pushchairs or wheelchairs and overgrown. The canal is not an alternative for getting to Lancaster, other than for leisure activity especially in winter, as it is muddy, and unlit. As Highways England points out in its consultee letter:
‘The site is not well served by public transport; the only option being bus service 89 which operates between Lancaster and Knott End six days per week at intervals of 1 ½ hours, which does not lend itself to discouraging car use, particularly for commuting trips’.
The result would be increased car use, adding to congestion coming up to the narrows at the Boot and Shoe crossroads, at the Pointer Roundabout and heading south into Galgate. This fails to address the City Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency.
The likelihood of high levels of car dependency have knock on effects for air quality both around the Pointer Roundabout and for Galgate. Galgate is in an Air Quality Management Zone, an acknowledgement of air pollution problems caused by traffic. Although surveys show some improvement in recent years, this is before any committed or proposed housing development. Local residents are rightly concerned particularly when a recent planning application, at Ward Field Farm, was approved even though The Air Quality Officer recommended that it be refused.
Highways England have serious concerns over South Lancaster revealed in 5 critical letters relating to the Local Plan (2 letters), to the Gladman’s proposal for Hala (2 letters) and again for 20/00305/OUT . In the current letter Highways England provides a detailed overview of the Local Plan and highlights concerns over the impact of this development upon South Lancaster generally and the Galgate junction between Stoney Lane, Salford Road and the A6. Highways England highlight the uncertainties related to the the timing and delivery of the Housing Infrastructure Fund finance announced in March 2020. Highways England observe:
‘The assessment should be based on the existing road and public transport layout given that the HIF measures have not yet been fully developed and have no certainty that they will be delivered.’
Cumulative impact of development contributes to surface water flooding, Surface water flooding is already a major problem in South Lancaster. The current application for 55 houses contributes to nearly 2,000 houses proposed in South Lancaster. These include Ward Field Farm (Galgate, 68 houses), North Bailrigg Lane (Hala, 680 houses),Grab Lane (John of Gaunt, 210 houses), Scotforth Road (95 houses) Pathfinders Drive (72 houses). All have the potential to increase surface water run-off and place additional pressure on existing drainage and sewerage systems. In their consultee response, the South Lancaster Flood Group have demonstrated that Ashton Road is susceptible to surface water flooding and raised a number of concerns about the current site. They highlight inadequacies associated with construction on the proposed site and the unsatisfactory Flood Risk Assessment.
An application to build 125 dwellings on this land east of Ashton Road was refused planning permission in 2016 (15/01342/OUT) for the following reasons:
1 Poor access to local services.
2. Unattractive to walk, cycle or travel by a sustainable means of transport.
3. Poorly served by public transport
4. Concerns from the Highways Authority
5. Impact on Landscape
Very little appears to have changed, although the number of houses is fewer.A very similar range of objections have now been lodged by residents, and organisations. This raises the obvious question of why should outline planning permission be granted now?