What's this all about?
Progress so Far
Local residents in Galgate, Bailrigg and Scotforth submitted their objections to the City Council about the proposed Bailrigg garden village in 2017.
Lancaster doesn’t need this many new houses - more and better quality jobs are more important.
The garden village would seriously increase in congestion on the A6 between Bailrigg and the city centre,including the Pointer roundabout.
Poor air quality and particulate pollution on A6 and in city centre.
The high infrastructure costs of the village would take finance away from other regeneration and job creation projects in Lancaster.
The garden village would increase pressure on schools, hospital , fire, police, ambulance and other public services, all already subject to cuts and struggling to meet demand.
The flood risk would rise due to more rapid run-off of rainwater, especially affecting Galgate.
There would be a loss of amenity, and of the natural environment and historical sites.
Have a look at this full overview of the campaign since January 2017
What is proposed?
Bailrigg Garden Village (BGV) was announced, without any prior notification to Lancaster residents, on 2 January 2017 as one of the 14 Garden Villages approved by the government.
According to Lancaster City Council
‘Bailrigg Garden Village presents the best opportunity in generations to extend Lancaster’s strategic housing supply in a manner which respects and reflects the ethical beliefs of the local community about sustainable living, local identity, and high levels of connectivity through public transport and cycling’. (Lancaster Bailrigg Garden Village, Expression of Interest)
Since the Council didn’t seek the views of the local community before issuing this statement, its validity must be in doubt.
It is proposed that Bailrigg garden village will consist of 3,500 houses, rising potentially to 5,000, located on green fields mainly to the west side of the mainline railway to the south of Lancaster. The garden village boundary extends from the Lancaster suburb of Scotforth to just short of Galgate, taking in the Lancaster University campus .
This is an enormous housing development which would be nearly 3 times the size of the existing Galgate village (currently 1200 houses). The land is farmland, and other amenities include the Lancaster Canal, ancient woodland and significant Roman archaeological sites at Burrow Heights. To be viable the garden village would require extensive, costly new road links to provide access under and over the West Coast Mainline railway to connect to the M6, a reconfiguration of M6 Jt33, as well as road crossing of the canal.
Reference to our map shows that BGV fails to meet the government’s own criteria for a garden village:
‘The garden village must be a new discrete settlement, and not an extension of an existing town or village. This does not exclude proposals where there are already a few existing homes’. Original Call for Garden Villages March 2016
BGV represents urban sprawl with no significant boundary with Scotforth ( a southern suburb of Lancaster). Indeed in the final report on the Local Plan consultation published February 2016 (prior to the government call for garden village proposals) a key segment of the land, now designated BGV, was Urban Extension 1 (UE1) ( p14 of Lancaster Local Plan 2016). The supposed area of separation from Galgate is not secure, with part already likely to have road infrastructure running through and no guarantee beyond a 15 year period.
3. Background to opposition
A local community action group of concerned residents was formed in winter 2017 during the City Council consultation period. This began as an informal group which set up Galgate Community Action Group Facebook. They drew up a petition which was signed by nearly 400 residents from Galgate, Bailrigg and Burrow and presented it to a meeting of Lancaster City Council in April. Councils are obliged to debate petitions with this level of signatories. For legal reasons the Council decided to defer this debate until December 2017, when the draft local plan was debated.
CLOUD - Citizens of Lancaster Opposed to Unnecessary Development evolved from that original group. It was formally constituted in October 2017 - full details available on https://www.cloudbgv2017.co.uk/
Scale and immediate impact
Existing local services - such as schools and GP surgeries in south Lancaster, and indeed the Royal Lancaster Infirmary - are already at crisis point. Fire, police and ambulance services are also already overstretched. And yet at the Council drop-in sessions for the Local Plan, the planners only offered vague assurances on how these vital needs would be addressed.
2. Traffic Congestion and Air Quality
Roads in Lancaster are already congested. The garden village would add
to these problems, especially along Ashton Road and on the A6, the routes into the
city centre from Bailrigg garden village. It is already officially acknowledged that traffic at the Pointer
roundabout where these routes meet is, I quote, ‘above capacity’, hence the congestion. But more serious than queues are the scientific studies which on the A6 corridor and in town have shown high levels of air pollution, with consequent health risks. More traffic is inevitable from 3,500 houses because the location encourages car dependence, whilst the re-configuration of the motorway junction to a site adjacent to Lancaster University makes this site especially attractive for long distance commuters for Preston and Manchester.
There will be between 8,400 and 12,000 people of all ages in BGV, depending on
how many dwellings are actually built. This will place an additional load on the transportation system which the Council has admitted to us has not yet been modelled so that the impact can be predicted.
The majority of journeys into and out of the Village, as it is in all predominantly residential areas , will be generated by journeys to and from work, and to and from school (the latter if made on the “school run” potentially creating 4 journeys rather than 2). At the moment the Council cannot say where people will work other than inviting us to infer that large proportion will work at the University (“ The largest employer in the city”). We discount this on the basis that we believe that around 2,000 people work at the University at the moment and we are not aware ( and we doubt that the Council is) of any such expansion plans by the University which would create such a significant amount of employment. Neither can the Council tell us where the School places ( say between 2,000 and 3,000 ) will be provided.
Irrespective of any other arguments ( such as Housing demand and flood risk ) against the Village the lack of planning for the transportation which will result in an unknown load being placed on an already congested system ( for which the A6 corridor is the only local route to and through the city) means that the decision to proceed with such a concentrated development is and remains reckless until adequate modelling has been carried out. Rapid bus transport and a cycling superhighway are aspirations, not carefully worked out solutions.
Air quality is already a major issue in Galgate and along the A6 corridor, and on Ashton Road leading to the Pointer Roundabout into Lancaster. Reconfiguring Jt 33 would improve air quality in Galgate but worsen it the A6 corridor through Scotforth and around the Pointer Roundabout.
3. Houses rather than jobs
Lancaster Local Plan and particularly BGV concentrates on the provision of additional housing, rather than the extra jobs which Lancaster really needs. The plan
envisages 13-14,000 new houses by 2031, but only 9,500 new jobs. Why would so
many people want to move to Lancaster when there aren’t going to be jobs for them? What impact would such a large influx have on employment prospects for existing residents? A 2012 City Council report analysed the reasons people had for moving out of Lancaster. Poor employment prospects were by far the single largest cause, cited by half the respondents. What is needed here is more affordable housing, not the kind of up-market properties which will largely be constructed by developers in a garden village. Lancaster University is one of Lancaster’s largest employers and much has been made of the rising employment prospects from a new Health Innovation Centre to be built on land adjacent to Bailrigg garden village.
P17 of the Public Reports pack that went to Lancaster City Council Cabinet on 3 October 2017 quotes potentially 3,000 new jobs and 4,000 new students at the University in the next decade. That would represent an unprecedented growth during a period of high uncertainty for higher education. There are questions around fees, and the effect of Brexit on both staff and student recruitment and research funding.. Where are the new students coming from? On the Health Innovation Centre, Phase 1 of the Health Innovation Centre simply involves moving the existing Medical Faculty down to the new site so no new jobs? Even Phase 2 with emphasis on innovative small business and business engagement is unlikely to bring masses of new jobs to the campus, rather a ‘slow burn’.
4. Objective Assessed Need
There has long been doubts expressed about the Objective Assessed Need for housing in Lancaster, based on projections provided by Turley Economics. Their 2014 report was shown to have been based on out of date Office of National Statistics data and was revised. Turley still projected a rate of house building of 675 a year from 2011-31. This is more than twice the average building rate of the last 15 years. Calls from the Green Party for an independent audit of the Turley figures were rejected by Lancaster City Council. A further revision is currently underway, but there remains significant doubt about exaggeration in the figures and the implications for Bailrigg garden village. A good overview of the issues is provided by Virtual Lancaster.
To service BGV it was estimated in 2016 that £90 million needs to be
spent largely on changes to Junction 33 and two crossings of the railway, but not
including a proposed road and a bridge over the Lancaster Canal to connect the
Garden Village to Ashton Road.
2016 Lancashire County Council Transport Plan includes the following estimates.
2017-2024 Road Expenditure Estimates associated with Bailrigg Garden Village
‘Jt 33 Reconfiguration
Final outturn cost dependent on option and delivery subject to securing Growth Deal, developer and/or Road Investment Strategy funding.
Lancaster South Supporting Infrastructure: Local Road Network including 2 crossings of Mainline railway
Final outturn cost subject to Garden Village design considerations and delivery subject to developer funding. Assumes two crossings of the West Coast Main Line required.
A6 South Lancaster to City Centre Route Management Plan
Final outturn cost dependent on scale of works and full delivery may be dependent on securing developer contributions and future integrated transport block allocations.
This is quite apart from the promised school, health, and flood defences and much needed public transport improvements. The aim appears to raise some of the finance from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through the Growth Deals or Road Investment Strategy with a bid of £150m being submitted to the Housing Infrastructure Fund. The recent history of Lancashire road projects running over budget gives added cause for concern.In 2001 outline costs for the Bay Gateway were put at £62m, Lancashire County Council estimates in 2004-5 stood at £87m and the final cost was around £140m in 2016.
This raises issues over use of public money at a time of serious public expenditure cuts. This is especially worrying given the Bay Gateway, linking the M6 to Heysham at Jt 34 of the M6, is less than 3 miles away from the proposed Jt33 reconfiguration.
So does BGV with its attendant high infrastructure costs really offer value for money for local and national taxpayers? Lancaster City Council has been committed, since the early 2000s, to the regeneration of Morecambe. Now that the Bay Gateway is open this could at last be achieved - to the benefit of the whole city. There is also the potential for further business development and the building of affordable housing on brownfield land. Such costed alternatives should have been presented, so that Lancaster residents could compare their merits to what is claimed for the Garden Village.
Flooding has been for years and remains a major threat to
people’s lives and well-being around Lancaster. People in Halton, Bowerham and Hala, as well as Galgate,were all affected by the November 2017 floods. Because of climate change, we know it is going to get worse. A huge investment in flood protection is already needed, not least to control the Burrow Beck, a cause of much damage upstream - and downstream it runs through the Garden Village site. But such measures, though necessary, would not provide flood security for homes in Galgate. These were not swamped by Burrow Beck but by the River Conder and the Whitley Beck. Galgate is now setting up a flood resilience group to which CLOUD is affiliated.
Lancaster City Council voted to adopt the Local Plan in a packed and lengthy meeting yesterday (20 December 2017), at Morecambe Town Hall. Bailrigg garden village is of course one of the key elements of this plan. A CLOUD representative gave a 5 minute address in this Council debate, summarising our reasons for opposing Bailrigg garden village. They were supported by 40 CLOUD members who filled the public gallery . The subsequent debate did little to address the issues we had raised and was led by the planners, rather than the elected representatives. The City Council voted against an amendment from to delay the decision on the Local Plan until revised Flood Risk Assessment Reports had been received. With the exception of the Green Councillors and a Conservative City and County Councillor and an abstention from the Mayor, the City Council voted for the Local Plan. This represents just the start of our campaign.
The Local Plan was published on 9 February 2018 and was subject to public scrutiny.. The plan, together with objections from CLOUD (and no doubt others as well), was sent to central government in April 2018. Richard McCoy, BSc MSc Dip TP MRTPI IHBC has been appointed as Planning Inspector to review the plan and the objections to it with public hearings expected in the Autumn of 2018 (date currently awaited August 2018)
During June and July 2018 Lancaster City Council held drop in sessions around the Area Action Plan for Bailrigg Garden Village. This was CLOUD's response.
The Local Plan Hearings were expected in autumn 2018 but were delayed until January 8th 2019. In October Lancaster City Council submitted modifications for public consultation.
In November 2018 the Planning Inspector postponed the start of the Hearings and in two strongly worded letters stated that since the Local Plan was deemed sound on submission major modifications were not legal.
January-February 2019 Public Consultation on Evidence and Additional Information on the Local Plan. Here is CLOUD's response
Planning Hearings announced to start 9 April 2019
Galgate floods, 22 November 2017