Developer loses appeal to build 70 new homes on Lancaster farmland after council rejects proposals

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Proposals to build up to 70 new homes on farmland near Lancaster city centre have been rejected by the Planning Inspectorate.

WVC Lancaster Limited, which had wanted to develop land north of Ashford House in Ashton Road, launched an appeal after their plans were refused by Lancaster City Council. Officers had warned councillors that the eight-acre development would cause "significant harm” to the green space.

In his report, inspector Kevin Savage upheld the council’s decision – but also raised concerns about a shortfall in the housing stock.

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He said ‘the proposal would cause substantial harm to the landscape character of the area’ and added: “The development would not preserve the open nature of the Urban Setting Landscape or the character and appearance of its surroundings. The proposal would also undermine the integrity of the canal as an important green space.

An artist's impression of how part of the development might have looked.An artist's impression of how part of the development might have looked.
An artist's impression of how part of the development might have looked.

“Overall, I find that the identified harm to landscape character is a decisive consideration that, even in the context of the council’s poor housing supply position, represents an adverse effect of such weight that it would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the identified benefits when assessed against the policies in the Framework, taken as a whole.”

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Residents had raised more than 75 concerns over the proposed development, a 3.55 hectare site which would have encompassed a horse boarding stable, paddock, arena, associated access and agricultural land.

The homes would have been split between 25% first homes, 37.5% shared ownership and 37.5% affordable rented in accordance with guidelines, and would have been a mix of two, three and four bedroomed, as well as bungalows and apartments.

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The report states: “There is no dispute that the local planning authority is unable to demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing sites… In this circumstance, the delivery of 70 dwellings would be a material boost to the housing supply and would help to address a chronic and pressing need for new homes in the Lancaster area.

"This is a matter of significant weight in the planning balance. The proposal would also deliver policy compliant levels of affordable housing. This is a further important benefit of the scheme."

Mark Cassidy, Chief Officer – Planning and Climate Change for Lancaster City Council, said: "We are pleased that the Inspector's findings align with those of our planners and the decision of the Planning Regulatory Committee.

"We particularly welcome the Inspector’s comments regarding the high value of the landscape and the harm that would have arisen from this development, had the appeal been allowed.”