• Mary Breakell

Newsbrief 9 Preparation for Local Plan 9 December 2017

Introduction : On 20th December, Lancaster city council is going to debate the Lancaster Local Plan with the recommendation that councillors approve it. This plan identifies areas which the city council wants to allocate for house building over the period up to 2031. These areas are spread around the city, but the largest single development in the plan by far is Bailrigg garden village with its 3500 to 5000 houses. Why it is important to object to the Local Plan now : If the city council votes in favour of the Local Plan and there are no objections to it from Lancaster residents, the plan will be adopted. The council will then be able to proceed with the development of Bailrigg garden village. However, by writing to or emailing councillors now with our objections to the garden village, we can achieve 2 objectives. First, we can try to persuade councillors to vote against the Local Plan when it’s debated on 20th December. Secondly, whether we win or lose on the 20th, our objections will oblige the authorities to bring in a Planning Inspector. This inspector will have to examine our objections and then decide whether to recommend for or against adoption of the Local Plan. So, the crucial action in the next week or so is to register our objections. Tips on what to include : We’re all probably aware by now of what it is we don’t like about to Bailrigg garden village. The CLOUD team doesn’t want to impose its ideas on supporters, but you may find these points helpful : The high infrastructure cost of the garden village - 2 crossings of the main railway line and a re-modelling of Junction 33 on the M6. Bailrigg has the highest infrastructure costs of all the 14 garden villages in the government’s programme. The extra load the garden village will impose on health services, schools etc and the absence of information as to how enhancements to these services are going to be funded. Why the garden village is planned for south Lancaster when economic development and jobs are supposed to be concentrated around the newly built Bay Gateway road between the M6 and Heysham and Morecambe? The real need in Lancaster is for more jobs and good quality ones, not 3500 extra houses. How are the new garden village inhabitants going to find work in Lancaster? Do we want a massive housing development here just for the inhabitants to commute down the M6 to jobs in Preston and Manchester? Additional traffic flows from the garden village will add to congestion and pollution on roads in south Lancaster and on into the city centre. The Pointer roundabout is already severely congested. Sample texts : If anyone is looking for help in composing a letter or email, you may find some useful suggestions in the sample texts below. If you do use any of them, please try to rephrase them a bit - it won’t help our case if the council receive many identical letters! It’s also important for all members (ie council tax payers) of a household to write since the more letters the better. Who to send it to and by when : Your letters or emails need to be received before the city council debate on 20th December. Contact details for councillors are available on the Lancaster city council website : http://www.lancaster.gov.uk/ - search for ‘find a councillor’ to identify the councillor for your ward. Drop-in session if you need any help or advice : As already advised in Newsbrief no 6, a CLOUD drop-in session will be held on Tuesday 12th December at the Boot & Shoe pub in Scotforth. CLOUD team members will be available in the Cobblers’ Suite (where we’ve held recent CLOUD meetings) from 3pm to 8pm to provide advice and answer any queries you may have. Attendance on December 20th at Morecambe Town Hall : The debate on the Local Plan will take place in Morecambe Town Hall on December 20th, with the council meeting starting at 6pm. Thanks to the petition against the garden village which many of us signed last winter, CLOUD has secured a 5 minute speaking slot at the start of the debate. We will be using this to highlight our key objections. Lancaster residents have the right to attend this debate and we would encourage as many of you as possible to do so. A large group of CLOUD supporters both outside the town hall before the meeting and then in the public gallery will impress councillors with the strength of our feelings! Environment Agency Drop-in Session in Ellel Village Hall : As you may have heard, the Environment Agency have now arranged the follow-on drop-in session they promised at the Ellel village hall meeting on 5th December. By a remarkable coincidence this session will also take place on 20th December, the same date as the council debate on the Local Plan! The drop-in session will run from 3pm to 8pm. So, if you want to pursue flooding issues with the Environment Agency, can we suggest doing this early on if you can (though we realise many of you be working) - and then head over to Morecambe for the Local Plan debate? It you’d advice on any points not covered above, please come along to our drop-in session or email CLOUD at cloudbgv2017@gmail.com Suggested Texts for Letters to Councillors Mix ‘n’ match and adapt from these suggestions, using your own words as far as possible to avoid sending identical letters. Text 1 Dear Councillor The floods of 22nd November which devastated the centre of Galgate/ houses alongside Burrow Beck in Hala have been described as ‘unprecedented’. However, coming just a couple of years after Storm Desmond, the term unprecedented is clearly inappropriate. We all have to recognise that extreme weather events of this sort are becoming more frequent and require a fundamental reassessment of flood prevention measures. From the public meetings arranged after the floods, it is clear that the existing flood risk assessments need to be reviewed. They do not reflect the higher flood risks we now face. This impacts on the Lancaster Local Plan which aims to identify areas for new house building over the period to 2031 and relies on the existing discredited flood risk assessments. Not only are some of the proposed new housing areas at greater risk of flooding than the plan recognises, but rainwater run-off from recent developments also adds to flood problems for existing houses located downstream. This was very evident in Galgate on 22nd November. The proposed Bailrigg garden village would clearly add to the run-off problem for Galgate and surrounding communities. In these circumstances I believe it is essential to halt adoption of the Local Plan until a proper re-assessment of flood risks across Lancaster has been carried out. I understand that the city council is going to debate the Local Plan on 20th December with the recommendation that it is adopted. I ask you instead to press for adoption of the plan to be deferred until we have all seen the updated flood assessments. Text 2 Dear Councillor……. During the public consultation on the draft Lancaster Local Plan in early 2017, I attended one of the drop-in sessions held at Ellel village hall/Lancaster House Hotel/etc. The proposals for a garden village at Bailrigg caused me concern on a number of points and I wrote to the city planners with my comments. These were on the issues of [select as appropriate - eg flooding, additional pressure on health services/GPs, additional road congestion etc]. Apart from a basic acknowledgement, I have received no response from the city council since writing. In October I went to one of the 2nd round of drop-in sessions arranged by the council, hoping to find answers to my earlier concerns. I was sadly disappointed. The information available was little changed from what I had seen at the original drop-in session. While the council staff were polite and friendly, they were unable to provide specific answers to my questions. Some of them said that the purpose of the sessions was to enable us to say what sort of garden village we would like. Obviously it’s nice to be asked, but without any specific plans and proposals it’s difficult to respond - no better than being presented with a blank sheet of paper and told to design a garden village! EITHER In conclusion I don’t believe the citizens of Lancaster have been given anything like sufficient information about the proposed Bailrigg garden village. Until this information is provided I would encourage you, as my local elected councillor, to vote against the Local Plan when it comes up for debate on 20th December. OR In conclusion there remain far too many unanswered questions about Bailrigg garden village. Until local residents have received proper replies to these questions. I believe it is your responsibility as my local councillor to vote against the Local Plan when it is debated by the city council on December 20th. ---------------------------------------------------- Text 3 Dear Councillor…. I have lived in Lancaster for many/several/specify no years and have seen lots of changes over this period. These have ranged from the closure of many of Lancaster’s traditional industries to new and positive developments like Lancaster University. However, what I have never seen before is a proposed housing development on the scale of Bailrigg garden village. With 3,500 and more houses, this development would be some 3 times the size of the existing Galgate village and would have around 10,000 inhabitants. This begs questions as to where these additional people are going to work, given that there are not lots of unfilled job vacancies in Lancaster, and how essential public services (schools, extra hospital capacity etc) are to be funded and provided. Despite writing to the council back in February/March of this year to ask for answers, I’ve not had any real response. ---------------------------------------------------- Text 4 Dear Councillor….. I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you that there will be a very important city council debate on 20th December on the subject of the Lancaster Local Plan. Back at the beginning of this year I signed the Galgate community action group petition opposing the Bailrigg garden village development. I did this on the grounds that it would result in too many houses for the needs of Lancaster. A development at Bailrigg would also be in the wrong part of the city. The Bay Gateway road scheme envisaged job creation around the new road in Heysham and Morecambe. From Bailrigg garden village it would be necessary either to drive through Lancaster city centre, on roads which are already congested and polluted, or to follow a circuitous route by the M6. Thanks to the number of residents who signed our petition, we were able to secure the right to have our concerns debated by the city council and to make a 5 minute address to councillors. I intend coming to Morecambe town hall to listen to this debate on 20th December and in particular to hear how council members respond to our petition. We have not yet received satisfactory answers to the questions we raised many months ago about Bailrigg garden village. We are entitled to a proper response and until we get one EITHER I believe it would be wrong/undemocratic of you to support adoption of the Local Plan. OR I would ask you not to support adoption of the Local Plan.

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