Newsbrief 82 8 April 2021
BAILRIGG GARDEN VILLAGE : PETITION
Report on the Petition presented to Lancaster City Council on 24th March 2021.
Text of the Petition
Recommendation approved at the Council meeting.
Lancaster Guardian Article
Teams meeting with Lancaster City Council Planners
As reported in Newsbrief 81, the petition objecting to the public consultation process over Bailrigg garden village attracted 718 signatures. It was presented to the Lancaster City Council meeting on 24th March. Here’s a report on what happened at Council, together with the text of the recommendation approved by councillors in response to the petition.
The Lancaster Guardian has an extensive article about the petition and Bailrigg garden village in its on-line edition and we are expecting a similar article in this week’s print edition.
Report on the Petition
The first mention of Lancaster City Council’s interest in the establishment of Bailrigg Garden Village was published in the Lancaster Guardian early in 2017. Public consultations were then held and public responses were recorded, but a summary of those responses was not published. Then, in January 2021, Lancaster City Council announced that it had appointed JTP Architects to undertake ‘master-planning’ for the garden village, and local residents were invited in newsletters distributed in south Lancaster to respond. Once again no reliable analysis of public responses has been published. One question asked was ‘What are your dreams for the future of the Bailrigg Garden Village?’ Coming after a four-year-long campaign against the development, this question led Galgate resident Rachel Bindless to protest: ‘An urban sprawl with the title of a garden village, and locals given no voice throughout the (not very public) public consultation!’ Indeed, an analysis of public responses presented by JTP as coloured dots on a map revealed that objections to what was proposed had been seriously under-recorded and far exceeded those in favour.
A petition was launched. It complained about the rushed timescale for consultation, the limited distribution of the newsletters, inadequate feedback, and concerns about flooding, lack of information on infrastructure and the need to protect the local environment and wildlife. It called for the withdrawal of the current consultation by JTP and its replacement with a process properly addressing local concerns. It complained that the ‘ridiculously short deadline has meant that the consultation process has fallen short of its role in providing local residents with an opportunity to comment in a constructive and representative way’.
Despite the Coronavirus lockdown the petition quickly attracted signatures. After just five days 200 local people had signed, and when the petition closed on 8 March there were 718 signatures, making it one of the largest in recent years, far more than was needed to trigger the right to address Council on the petitioners’ grievances.
As a result, on 24 March Lancaster City Council heard an impassioned address from local resident Mrs Barbara Walker, in which she criticised the consultation process as certainly poor in comparison with how consultations on garden villages had been handled elsewhere. With reference to one presentation she remarked that ‘we learned as much about accommodation for chickens as we did for residents of the garden village’.
Responding to this address, Janice Hanson, Deputy Leader of the Council, said that she recognised the frustration experienced by residents and accepted that substantive issues had been raised. She therefore made a recommendation. Council was asked ‘to mandate that consultation on the subsequent South Lancaster Area Action Plan should include structured questions and provide feedback to those registering comments/objections’. This was seconded by Councillor Gina Dowding, who gave a strong analysis of existing consultation problems. The recommendation was approved by councillors, with just one abstaining and no votes against.
Text of Petition - Included in Appendix 2 in Evidence pack Click on this link
Recommendation approved at the Council meeting.
This is the recommendation approved by councillors :
'That Council notes the substantive issues raised by this petition and requests that the Director for Economic Growth and Regeneration engage with the sponsors of the petition to address their concerns. In particular, this engagement should provide an analysis of the responses provided by local residents during the current master-planning process and, as appropriate, explanations where the responses have not informed the masterplan.
Full council is asked to mandate that consultation on the subsequent South Lancaster Area Action Plan should include structured questions and provide feedback to those registering comments/objections.'
This recommendation may be favourably compared to the much less specific one (see below) proposed to Council by the Director of Economic Regeneration and Planning, but not accepted by councillors. That the Council approved a more strongly worded recommendation shows that they took the petition seriously. However we must not forget that the Council remains committed to Bailrigg garden village.
RECOMMENDATION (1) That Council does not refer the Petition for further consideration by Cabinet but encourages the leaders behind the ePetition to engage with JTP Architects and LCC to ensure their concerns are addressed as part of the concluding master-planning process
An account of the petition and linked Lancaster City Council debate has been covered in the Lancaster Guardian
We mentioned in Newsbrief 81 that Lancaster City Council Planners had offered a Teams meeting to the petitioners, to discuss concerns. This has been agreed for Tuesday 20 April at 6.30pm. If you would like to attend and haven’t already notified us do let us know and we will ensure your details are passed on.