Newsbrief 76 17 November 2020 Transforming Lancaster Travel Consultation
Lancashire County Council recently opened a public consultation on transport proposals for Lancaster. Their Newsletter ‘Transforming Lancaster Travel’ has been widely distributed and we trust you have received a copy. Public consultation on these proposals runs until early December 2020 - the letter accompanying the Newsletter states 4th December, but the County website clearly states that comments may be made up to 8th December. The County advises that further information is available on-line at : https://lancashire.gov.uk/transforming-lancaster-travel/ and they invite us to ‘have our say’ by completing an on-line questionnaire.
We encourage CLOUD members to complete the questionnaire, but also to write to/email your local Lancashire County Councillor and copy this to your Lancaster City Councillor. In this way your elected councillors (and not just the planners) will hear directly from you as to what your views are. This is important. Keep your response short and use your own words. The CLOUD Management Committee considers the following points to be important and you may find them helpful in composing your response. Here are contact details for the local Lancashire County Councillors :
County Councillor Gina Dowding Division : Lancaster Central - email@example.com
County Councillor Susie Charles - Division : Lancaster Rural East - firstname.lastname@example.org
County Councillor Lizzi Collinge - Division : Lancaster East - email@example.com
and click here for contact details for South Lancaster City Councillors.
We should realise that it is only the M6 Junction 33 link which has been funded. No funds are available for either the Bus Rapid Transit system or the ‘cycle superhighway’ as outlined in the (now approved) Lancaster Local Plan. The Treasury press release last March announced “£140 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund for the ‘South Lancaster Growth Catalyst’ proposal which will unlock up to 9,185 homes.” We understand that this money has to be spent by 2024/25, which may explain why the Junction 33 link is now the immediate priority. We submitted a Freedom of Information request to Lancashire County Council earlier this year, asking this question : Please provide a breakdown of how the £140M is to be allocated - as between road building, public transport schemes and provision for cyclists and pedestrians. The answer we received was :
“The £140m is completely focused on the large strategic infrastructure part of the wider package so all £140m would fall into your category of 'road building'. The other categories would be funded by what the government term 'local contributions', such as from other public funding pots or from housing/commercial developers via the planning system. In the bid approximately £30m worth of public transport and active travel (cycling and walking) initiatives have been identified.”
So far as we are aware no other public funding pots have been identified and developer contributions via the planning system do not have an encouraging track record.
While the Lancashire County Newsletter covers the Junction 33 link and the city centre gyratory system, it says nothing about the ‘bit in between’ - ie A6 through south Lancaster/Scotforth up to the Pointer roundabout. It seems inevitable that road ‘improvements’ around Galgate will lead to increased traffic on into the centre of Lancaster, with consequent detriments of increased congestion and air pollution. This was an issue recognised by the 2016 Lancashire County Highways Plan, but now not mentioned. The 2016 Highways Plan referred to Caton Rd and Junction 34 as the main access route into city centre, but we now see reference to a possible future Park & Ride at J33. This looks like evidence of muddled thinking and clarification is needed.
The Junction 33 link proposals - all 6 options - are aimed solely at connecting Bailrigg garden village to the M6. This will enable garden village residents to travel away from Lancaster to work etc, but does nothing for travel into Lancaster. Garden village schemes are however supposed to be self-contained communities offering employment as well as housing, not just housing estates for commuters.
Flooding issues. Meetings with the Environment Agency locally have already established that drainage from the existing M6 doesn’t meet current standards and the rapid run-off is one cause of Whiteley Beck flooding in Galgate. The Junction 33 link proposals don’t offer any alleviation of this acknowledged problem. The engineering reports do address drainage from the proposed new link roads and mention attenuation measures before discharge into the river Conder - upstream of Galgate. There is no indication that any of this will reduce the local flood risk, or that this issue is seen as a priority. The engineering reports concentrate on highways issue such the steepness of gradients on the link roads, rather than the flooding impact on the local community.
We should also realise that the Housing Infrastructure Fund bid for the Junction 33 link was crucially dependent on Bailrigg garden village for its justification. As CLOUD members (especially those living in Galgate) will recall, we repeatedly raised concerns that the garden village would worsen run-off and flooding. In the continued absence of any real information on this issue (to be provided we understand in the South Lancaster Area Action Plan, whenever that may be put out for consultation) the drainage and flooding impacts of the Junction 33 link and Bailrigg garden village cannot really be assessed.
Air quality. One of the declared aims of the Junction 33 link proposals is to reduce air pollution in Galgate along the A6. However it is clear that both the central options run close to some existing houses on Chapel Lane and very close to the new bungalows adjacent to the church. There is no assessment of the increased noise and air pollution which would result from any of the route options - and this begs the question as to whether the Junction 33 proposals would move noise and pollution rather than solving it? Without this information it would be premature to take any decision is taken on which route option, if indeed any.
One impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has been a substantial move to home working and away from long-distance commuting. It is obviously too soon to tell whether this will be a permanent feature but there are indications that we are unlikely to return to the situation as it was before the pandemic. This needs to be evaluated before any final decisions are taken on the Junction 33 proposals. In any case we would expect that traffic surveys would underpin the business case for this scheme and yet there is no indication in the Newsletter that these have been carried out.
9185 homes. The Treasury’s press release (at para 3 above) stated that the proposed Junction 33 links “will unlock up to 9,185 homes.” This is an awful lot more than the figure of 3500 to 5000 houses at Bailrigg garden village and it’s far from clear where these would be located. However, given that the Junction 33 options are designed solely to improve links northwards past Galgate, it follows that it is here that the 9185 houses are to be built - somewhere in or around.south Lancaster. We attempted to find out more about this through our Freedom of Information request, but, as you can see, received very vague answers :
How the figure of 9185 homes has been calculated?
“This figure is arrived at by taking the estimated number of houses across the entirety of the South Lancaster broad area of growth which includes, but is not restricted to, the new garden village. This totals 5,185. To that is added a potential additional 3,500 after 2031, the need for and location of which would be identified as part of the next local plan. Finally, 500 is added as an allowance from the 2000 new student residential units planned by the university.”
What is the location or locations of the 9,185 homes defined by their distribution within their various specific six-character postcodes?
“We do not hold this information defined to postcode level.”