Villagers fight plans for 115 new homes on ‘flood plains’ near Lancaster

Galgate residents are fighting against plans for 115 new homes on green fields.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 9:28 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 10:09 am

Villagers say they were only made aware of the scheme earlier this month when they were sent letters by the city council, giving them 15 days to respond, despite the application having been lodged in March.

And they say the land in Highland Brow had already been previously set aside by Lancaster City Council as a Green Buffer Zone following a public consultation - designed to protect the residents, village and many species of endangered animals, birds and fauna in the area.

"Now it appears that city planning have disregarded their very own agreements and thrown the village of Galgate under a bus!" a residents’ group has said in a joint statement.

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The proposed building site in Galgate under water.

"The planning proposal as lodged with city council would appear to define these new properties to be two-storey houses with mostly double garages, nearly all built on fields that lie within a natural flood plain that locals know already floods every time there are heavy rains there – so much so that there are some small flood drains to take away only some of the excess water.

"Now add in new houses with all concrete and roads and where is that water now going to go?

"Add to that that this natural flood plain is also home to many red listed bird species, not to mention a feeding area for protected bats that live here and can often be viewed flying around collecting their food over these same fields.

"This area is also a known migratory path for protected frogs, toads and the protected newt – this will all go and yet planning seem to have disregarded these protected species in this instance – yet they were still protected under the original Green Buffer Zone agreement!"

Traffic congestion in Salford Road, Galgate.

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Villagers also say the plans indicate a new entrance to the 115 houses would be created onto Highland Brow, which they say is already "barely capable of two way traffic".

"To facilitate this the plans have clearly defined the widening of road and total removal of hedgegrows on Highland Brow.

"These hedgerows are also part of the natural life of animals and there are stoats and weasels that live within the very area that is due to be ripped under these plans.

The proposed building site in Galgate.

"These new houses with double garages are expected to create a further 250 vehicles all looking to use existing roadways. Galgate just cannot support this, whether it wants to or not.

"The current road system already has inherent difficulties giving pedestrians, walkers and cyclists dangerous limited space pathways to the village and its amenities.”

Residents say the nearby Salford Road would not be able to cope, along with the four-way light controlled junction at the main road.

"There are already many bumps and scrapes as vehicles struggle to pass each other,” they said. “In some parts of this road near the railway bridge there is no pavement or crossing area, forcing pedestrians to have to step out into the traffic.

The proposed building site in Galgate under water.

"Young mothers with toddlers on the way to school are forced into the road as the pavements here are not wide enough – it is the only way to get to school.

"The additional danger to human life is immense."

Villagers held an emergency parish council open meeting to discuss the plans, attended by all parish councillors as well as county and some city councillors, together with more than 80 residents.

They are also supported by Lancaster MP Cat Smith, who said: “Like many Lancastrians, I was shocked when I learned that a developer has submitted an application to build 115 houses on Galgate’s Green Barrier.

"Not only would this development see the loss of biodiversity in Galgate, it would also see housing built on land which floods and serve to worsen traffic problems in the village.

“I’ve therefore written to Lancaster City Council’s planning committee, imploring them to reject this application. I will be working alongside parish councillor Lisa Corkerry and other residents of Galgate to ensure these houses do not get built.”

Traffic congestion at the crossroads in Galgate, leading into Salford Road.

Residents are objecting to the proposals on the grounds of concerns over traffic, flooding, ecology, utilities and services.

They have formed an online action group and are urging people to view the application at https://www.lancaster.gov.uk/planning/view-applications-and-decisions and then typing in 22/00342/FUL, and also to watch their video about the issue.

You can also complete a survey for the action group at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/galgate and join Galgate's Facebook Group at www.facebook.com/groups/galgatesfuture/ and also on Facebook at Galgate Community Action Group.

Documents submitted by Emery Planning on behalf of developers Wain Homes say the development has been designed specifically so that Galgate remains a separate settlement, and a Green Buffer between Galgate and Bailrigg Garden Village would remain.

The application says: “The site is located on a greenfield site which is designated within SG1: Lancaster South Broad Area of Growth for development. Therefore, the site has been specifically identified as a suitable location for development.

‘’The delivery of open market housing would assist in boosting the supply of housing in Lancaster which only has a 2.6 year supply which is a substantial shortfall.

‘’The proposal would deliver 30% affordable housing which accords with the development plan and would assist in addressing the very significant and persistent shortfall in affordable housing delivery.

‘’The development would be in an accessible location which can accommodate the development scheme socially, economically and environmentally, (and) would provide open space to meet the needs of existing and proposed residents; the development would provide a range of social and economic benefits, including construction jobs and increase spending for local services and facilities.’’

‘’In the context of this range of substantial benefits, these would not be outweighed by the limited adverse harm from developing a greenfield site.

‘’Therefore, the proposal would have no adverse impacts that would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the development and…planning permission should be granted for the proposed development.’’