Newsbrief 84 19 July 2021 Update on South Lancaster Growth Catalyst
CLOUD NEWSBRIEF NUMBER 84: 19 July 2021
BAILRIGG GARDEN VILLAGE & SOUTH LANCASTER GROWTH CATALYST
CITY COUNCIL DECISION ON 28TH JULY?
REMEMBER TO SUBMIT YOUR OBJECTION!
1. First of all, many thanks from the CLOUD management committee to all members and supporters who have already responded to Newsbrief 83 and contacted their local city councillor about the proposed road developments to link Bailrigg garden village to the M6. If you haven’t already done so please don’t delay - and send your response to the Chief Executive and Leader of the Council, as well as to your local councillor. We understand that the Council meeting on Wednesday 28th July may be the one which decides on the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) grant - we consider this to be superficially attractive but involving substantial and unjustifiable risk and uncertainty. More detail on all this below.
2. Misleading Responses. The objections that you’ve already submitted have generated some misleading and ill-informed responses. Here are the ones we’re aware of and our response to them. If you receive any further replies of this sort please forward them to us at this link and we’ll investigate them.
a. If Lancaster turns down the £140m [rom HIF] and 9000 houses,then 12,000 houses will be imposed by government.
CLOUD response : There’s no evidence to support this threat and no instances that we’re aware of when central government has acted in this way. The 9,000 houses were linked to a bid made by Lancashire County Council to the Housing Infrastructure Fund, not the level of houses in South Lancaster in the Local Plan..Negotiations with central government over the HIF bid are based on the figure of 9185 houses. Other councils have declined HIF funding recently without this sort of penalty.
b. It seems you are ill informed. There is no plans to build over 9000 house on Bailrigg and the HIF project is far larger than the sum you are talking about.
CLOUD response: This is wrong. The HIF bid is explicitly based on 9185 houses. This figure was first announced by the Treasury in March 2020 :
£140 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund for the South Lancaster Growth Catalyst Proposal which will unlock up to 9,185 homes. Source: HM Treasury Spring Budget North West
Exactly what is meant by “the HIF project is ‘far larger than the sum you are talking about’ isn’t clear to us. It is however the case that HIF has only provided partial funding for the infrastructure required by the South Lancaster Growth Catalyst. Total infrastructure costs are estimated at £261M and the HIF grant is £140M, leaving the balance to be found from developer contributions and other sources.
c. The plan is also over the next 15 to 20 years. Whoever has given you this information they are clearly trying to stir trouble.
CLOUD response : We completely refute the claim that we are trying to stir trouble. We are raising real concerns about the costs and risks which the HIF bid presents. There is a real danger that shortfalls in funding and cost overruns will have to met by council tax payers. As citizens of what is supposed to be a democratic city council, it is our right to raise matters of this sort which concern our members and supporters - particularly when the HIF bid has been rightly recognised as the most significant single issue to come before the Council in many years.
It is true that the plan extends over the next 15 to 20 years. However the start of construction work must start soon as the HIF funding has to be spent by 2027. So this is not far off development we can ignore. Once committed it would be very difficult for the council to extract itself..
d. The forthcoming vote relates neither to the principle (or size) of development, nor the acceptance of HIF money (and any associated risks - about which the Conservative and Green groups have been extremely hawkish), but the mechanism for division of funds from the HIF
between the City Council and the County Council. HIF funds from central government help to support the costs of associated infrastructure: roads, schools, clinics, and the like. It is a separate issue from the actual building of houses or from the question of how many houses will be built and when (the 9,185 figure is spread over a couple of decades).
CLOUD response : This is very misleading. The key decision which Lancaster City Council has to make is precisely whether to accept the HIF funding and the obligations which go with it. There is of course a division of responsibility between city and county councils - city is the housing authority and county is responsible for transport and highways. However what is clear, from other HIF schemes, is that liability for cost overruns and/or shortfalls in developer contributions rests with the local authorities and NOT with central government. Whether this is county or city really doesn’t matter - as council tax payers we are liable to fund the shortfalls from either. The HIF grant will not cover such items as schools and healthcare provision - HIF only provides £140M out of the total infrastructure cost estimate of £261M.
3. What we all need to do now. If you haven’t already submitted an objection do so now. Time is pressing. Failure to object will be taken as consent to the HIF bid. Send your objection to your local councillor follow this link for contact details of South Lancaster Councillors and to the Chief Executive Here is a link to his email address. If you’ve already submitted an objection but not copied it to the Chief Executive please do so now (we forgot to include this point in our previous Newsbrief - sorry!). Keep on encouraging your friends and neighbours to object. All the points we included in Newsbrief 83 remain valid - here’s the link to it
4. Green Party public meeting. As you may be aware, the Lancaster Green party held a public meeting about south Lancaster housing on 14th July. While CLOUD is and will remain a non-political organisation, we feel that this meeting provided some valuable insights into the issues surrounding housing provision in south Lancaster, including Bailrigg garden village. if you weren’t there and would like to see what was discussed, here is the link to the Lancaster Guardian article summarising this meeting
5. As further developments occur, we’ll issue further Newsbriefs. If you have any queries about this subject, please email CLOUD via the following link .
6. Do please share widely should there be people you think are unaware of the potential implications.
With many thanks from the CLOUD management committee.