How should we plan for our district’s future?

St George's Quay.
St George's Quay.

The next step in helping to identify new land for building between 5,000 and 6,000 new homes will start next month with the launch of a major new public consultation.

With the potential for 9,500 new jobs and a recommended need for around 13,000 new homes, the council is looking at ways to find more development land in addition to many sites that have already been identified.

Lancaster City Council is asking the public to help it to come up with the right option to meet the district’s housing needs up to 2031 through a six week consultation which will be held from October 19 to November 30.

It follows a consultation in 2014 to look at five in-principle options for new strategic development sites.

Based on the results and other evidence the council is now proposing that the district’s needs cannot be met by one single option and is exploring a hybrid approach with three parts:

1. A large urban extension to Lancaster

Three options for the urban extension that are being looked at are, development at South Lancaster (including the land already identified at Whinney Carr), North East Lancaster to the east of the M6 and North East Lancaster to the west of the M6.

2. Green Belt Review

Currently there are only limited exceptions that would allow for development to happen in the North Lancashire green belt, which had its boundaries drawn in 1991.

Nearly 25 years later the district’s population has increased and projections suggest that this will continue. In addition the Heysham to M6 link road which goes through the green belt will soon be in place, and the impacts of this need to be considered.

A review could allow for well-located large sites on the edges of Lancaster, Morecambe, Carnforth and Slyne-with-Hest to come forward whilst maintaining the larger part of the green belt for its original purpose. In total, these sites could provide more than 3,000 new homes by 2031.

3. Village Expansion

Development sites are identified in most of the district’s villages, however, only Dolphinholme is identified here as being a suitable location for a greater level of development.

It is suggested that potentially 500 new dwellings could be built, but discussions need to take place with the parish council, residents, community representatives and land owners.

Coun Janice Hanson, Lancaster City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for Economic Regeneration and Planning, said: “The council still needs to decide on a definitive answer as to the final number of new homes that need to be built but all the indications are that it could be up between 650 and 700 annually between now and 2031.

“Land has been identified which would go some way to meeting this need but we’re still left with a shortfall of between 5,000 and 6,000.

“Many people will say that we must not build new homes on such a scale, but the evidence and estimates we have of population and job growth show the opposite – growth will quickly outstrip demand unless we take action.

“If we do not properly plan using the evidence then we run the risk of house prices becoming increasingly unaffordable and having nowhere for young people and families to live in the future, forcing them out of the area to look for homes and work elsewhere.

“In turn this would lead the district to stagnate and unable to attract new businesses, investment and jobs.

“It is incumbent on us all to look at the evidence dispassionately and come to a decision which will provide our communities with the opportunities they need to grow and prosper.”

A number of ‘drop in’ events will be held across the district for people to find out more about the options and to have their say.

These will take place on the following dates and locations:

• Tuesday 20 October - Ellel Village Hall – 2pm to 7pm

• Wednesday 21 October – Dolphinholme Village Hall – 2pm to 7pm

• Thursday 22 October – Lancaster and Morecambe College – 2pm to 7pm

• Tuesday 27 October – Carnforth Heritage Centre – 2pm to 7pm

• Wednesday 28 October – Slyne Memorial Hall – 2pm to 7pm

• Thursday 29 October – Lancaster Methodist Church (Scotforth Road) – 2pm to 7pm

People’s views will be used to inform the next stage, which will be to put together a final proposal for consultation in 2016.

More information on the consultation can be found at www.lancaster.gov.uk/planningpolicy.