Plans progress for up to 14,000 new homes

The third urban extension option is for a large site on land based on Cuckoo Farm, between the Ridge, the M6 and Lansil Golf'Course. This could provide a site for 1,500 dwellings and new employment land. This site plan is illustrative.
The third urban extension option is for a large site on land based on Cuckoo Farm, between the Ridge, the M6 and Lansil Golf'Course. This could provide a site for 1,500 dwellings and new employment land. This site plan is illustrative.
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Plans for up to 14,000 new homes across the district are moving ahead after councillors voted against an in-depth review of the proposals.

Earlier this year Lancaster City Council identified eight potential options for housing, including increasing the size of Lancaster and building on greenbelt land and expanding existing villages.

A public consultation was launched to ask people where they thought were the best places to build the new developments.

But Green councillors Tim Hamilton-Cox, Dave Brookes and Caroline Jackson asked councillors last Wednesday evening for the housing requirement recommendation to be subject to an independent academic review.

They wanted councillors to recognise that the potential implications of over-allocating land for housing for distinct communities across the district, and for the environment, are severe.

They said there is a significant risk that the recommendation, if adopted, would lead to a considerable over-allocation on the basis of forecasts for job creation, and projections for population and household formation, which are disconnected from recent trends and which incorporate assumptions which are not sufficiently tested.

However, Conservatives opposed the motion, which they said would further delay the creation of a Local Plan for the district.

They said they believe a Local Plan is vital, but even without any further delay it is unlikely such a plan will be in place before spring 2017.

They accept that houses need to be built, want to develop brownfield sites and protect our rural environment so that the right houses get built in the right places.

The decision was subject to an amendment which replaced the original from the Green councillors asking for an independent review.

The amendment, put forward by Scotforth Labour councillor Anne Whitehead, said that the plans already have the recommendation of an Objective Assessment of Housing Need and that the figures have been informed by data that include employment projections provided by Experian.

Officers will continue to engage with Turleys, who are producing the plan, during the process of preparation in 2016.

Specifically, Turleys will be asked, as a matter of urgency, to recalculate the recommended OAN range using alternative employment projections from Oxford Economics and Cambridge Economics.

They will also be asked to provide the input data that leads to the housing projections made in their October report and for the additional projections.

After the meeting, Coun Whitehead said: “It’s vital we ensure that enough new homes are built throughout the district to ensure people of all ages can find a home they can afford and to support the exciting plans for new jobs we are encouraging.

“However, we do not want to plan for too many new homes, and that is why we are asking the consultants to look again at their recommendations based upon different job creation projections.

“It is precisely because we want to protect green land in our district so far as is possible that we need to get a Local Plan in place as soon as we can and that is why we decided against requesting another, potentially lengthy, more expensive review.

“If we don’t have a Local Plan by 2017 the Government could prepare one for us and in the meantime developers will have a better chance of building where they want to rather than where we would prefer them to.”