Newsbrief 83 29 June 2021 30,000 extra residents for Lancaster?
CLOUD NEWSBRIEF NUMBER 83 : 29th June 2021
30,000 EXTRA RESIDENTS FOR SOUTH LANCASTER?
RISK OF COST OVERRUNS
CRUCIAL CITY COUNCIL DECISION IMMINENT
VOICE YOUR OPPOSITION NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!
This article from Lancaster Guardian gives a good overview of what is proposed for South Lancaster follow this link
The 23rd June 2021 meeting of Lancaster City Council received a report from Officers on ‘progress’ with funding for the new roads to link Bailrigg garden village (BGV) to the M6 Follow link to Public Pack for meeting and see pp 41-50. . The debate on this report raised major issues which we need all CLOUD supporters to respond to. The final decision on this funding is scheduled for the next full Council meeting on 28th July and it is crucial that we let our local city councillors know our views before then. The 2 key issues are :
the housing needs number for south Lancaster is now claimed to be 9185 new houses - meaning around 30,000 extra residents. This compares to just 3500 houses for Bailrigg garden village in the Local Plan approved only last year.
the financial risk to local residents of cost overruns on the M6 link road to Bailrigg garden village (current cost estimate £140M).
Background : The relevant report from the 23rd June Council meeting is at item 14 of the agenda and is entitled South Lancaster Growth Catalyst : Progress Update. (South Lancaster Growth Catalyst is now, we understand, the name for Bailrigg garden village plus other developments in south Lancaster). The debate on this item was brought forward to the start of the meeting which was live-streamed. We encourage you to access the recording and listen. Go to Agenda Frontsheet and click on HERE: https://committeeadmin.lancaster.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=305&MId=7746&Ver=4
We suggest you do this quickly as the draft minutes are already up, but convey very little of interest. The recording, by contrast, is fascinating. Decisions relating to Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) - Follow this link for background to HIF) and especially the 9,000+ houses hold considerable financial risk for the Council. This gives us the opportunity to raise questions in the minds of Councillors, in much the way we did for the Petition debate in March.
The brief debate in the Council meeting included statements that :
this was the single most crucial decision facing the city council in many years.
the new Council Leader (elected in May 2021) said she would not impose her views on the Council, but wanted all councillors to be involved in the process and to be full informed about it.
the views of local residents were important and should be taken into account.
there was surprise as to how much information on the garden village had only just ‘emerged’.
Against this there was the view that the Council couldn’t and shouldn’t turn down the £140M of government funding.
Contact Your Councillor Now : Email or write to your local city councillor NOW to register your opposition to the planned 9185 extra houses and the HIF funding for the M6 link road into the garden village. Press your councillor to vote against this scheme, or at the very least to have it deferred until a sound case has been made for the housing numbers and the costs of the M6 link road have been properly evaluated.
Here are some points to help get you started, but please add other concerns you may have. Don’t copy and paste directly from this Newsbrief - use your own words. It is essential to respond - as before with objections to the Local Plan, silence will be taken as acquiescence.
Points to consider :
9185 new houses equates to around 30,000 new inhabitants. This would be “a city within a city” - the current population of Lancaster is only 52,000! This would overstretch even more the unstable infrastructure we already have here. Where are these people coming from? Where will they work, given that Lancaster isn’t flush with new quality jobs? Will they commute to Manchester down the M6 and how is that compatible with the Climate Emergency declaration? What evidence is there to support 9185 houses, given that the Local Plan envisaged only 3500 in Bailrigg garden village, possibly rising to 5000?
Schools currently face issues over lack of parental choice and difficulty securing placements., GPs and hospitals have long waiting lists and there is the potential disruption from proposals to close RLI and relocate to out-of-town site between Lancaster and Preston. The £140 HIF funding only covers road building and we are not aware of any other identified funding for the extra schools, health facilities etc that would be needed for 30,000 more residents.
Some other Councils have already voted against accepting HIF funding because of the associated financial risks - risks that also apply to Lancaster. Here are links to media reports (INSERT Rutland and Melton in Leicestershire )
Ask councillors whether council officers have provided them with a risk assessment on the HIF bid and ask them to share any such assessment with you.
Ask councillors how flood mitigation for locations outside the Bailrigg garden village boundary will be funded.
The Bailrigg garden village boundary has now been extended to include a large swathe of land to the west of the original boundary - This is link to Masterplanning map . This particularly affects residents in Glasson Dock, Thurnham and Conder Green, who will now have the garden village on their doorstep. There will also be impacts on the busy and narrow A582. At the same time, the eastern boundary of the garden village has also been moved and it now excludes all land to the east of the A6. This area, which incudes the current planning application for land NE of Bailrigg Lane, remains designated for housing - but no longer as part of the garden village. We’re not aware of the rationale for these changes, but they do suggest a lack of firmness in the council’s plans for south Lancaster. Would it not be wiser to get these uncertainties sorted before committing to the HIF funding and its associated risks?
Over recent months Lancaster County Council has issued newsletters entitled Transforming Lancaster’s Travel. The road schemes they contain only cover the M6 link to Bailrigg garden village and city centre gyratory scheme - but nothing for the “bit in between” - that is the A6 through Hala and Grieves in south Lancaster. Already a busy road, this could become more congested since a new link to the M6 would encourage more car traffic to access the city centre through south Lancaster.
As well as the appalling loss of life and serious illness it has caused, Covid represents the greatest disruption to our lives probably since WW2. Add in the ongoing uncertainty over the impact of Brexit and the need to address the Climate Emergency and we face a degree of uncertainty that is high and unprecedented. There is no evidence that the HIF bid or the council’s target of 9185 houses have taken account of the impact which Covid, Brexit and Climate Emergency might have on work and travel etc patterns - so better to defer any decision until the future is a bit clearer. We recognise that there is always going to be some degree of uncertainty and long-term planning decisions have to be taken BUT we need to defer any decision until there is clear evidence on the housing numbers and reliability of the M6 link road costs.
Here is list of local councillors and their contact details. South Lancaster Councillors
Spread word to all friends, family and neighbours. This can be done personally or by social media or whatever way suits you best. While CLOUD members may be aware of what’s going on, not everyone has access to our Newsbriefs. There are more than a few residents who, for whatever reason, don’t realise how massively the Council’s plans will impact all of south Lancaster. Please do all you can to spread the message - otherwise the first some people will know of Bailrigg garden village is when the construction traffic arrives! We are using all the social media channels at our disposal. We need a massive response, as we achieved with the Petition presented to Council on 24th March 2021.
From what was said at the Council meeting on 23rd June, it will be the next Council meeting scheduled for 28th July which decides whether to accept the HIF funding and the conditions that go with it. It is vital to let your local councillor know before then what your views are. This may be our last opportunity to influence decisions on Bailrigg garden village and housing developments elsewhere in South Lancaster - don’t waste it!
If there are further developments we will update you via Newsbriefs. If you’re aware of any relevant information we haven’t included here or if you have any queries about contacting your councillor. Or contact CLOUD via this link
CLOUD Management Committee