Lancaster is “defenceless” against new houses - resident

Figures suggesting the district needs 12,000 new homes over the next 20 years are under scrutiny.
Figures suggesting the district needs 12,000 new homes over the next 20 years are under scrutiny.

A Halton resident says people are “defenceless” against new housing developments and the council is “toothless” to stop them.

Paul Hartley was speaking after he delivered a 200-strong petition to Lancaster City Council asking for housing plans in the village to be suspended – including 60 planned houses in a crops field off Forgewood Drive.

Mr Hartley asked councillors to defer planning applications on greenfield sites in Halton because the village is preparing a neighbourhood plan, which enables a community to decide for itself where a new development will be located.

But the council said they weren’t allowed to do that, quoting a recent case where the High Court allowed an appeal against a decision to refuse 120 houses in Sussex.

Then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, had dismissed an appeal against a council decision to turn down the Sayers Common development, saying it would undermine an emerging neighbourhood plan. But the High Court said he’d been wrong to do so.

Mr Hartley said afterwards: “We are being left defenceless against predatory planning applications and the council is toothless to stop them.”

Coucillor Paul Woodruff, longtime ward councillor for Halton-with-Aughton, backed Mr Hartley at a council meeting at Morecambe Town Hall last Wednesday.

He said: “We can’t take any more, the developers have us under siege. They are putting houses everywhere they possibly can. We have lost the west side of the village to the second-rate concrete jungle of the M6 link road and now if this development came to light, it would be the start of the downward spiral of the east side of Halton.

“Be careful, because the next village to be decimated, could be yours.”

Four parish councils in the district have applied for a neighbourhood plan - Cockerham, Caton-with-Littledale, Wray and Halton-with-Aughton.

Designation applications for Cockerham, Wray and Caton have already been approved.

The council also came under fire at the meeting for not having a finalised land allocations plan to set housing targets for the district.

Coun Woodruff called this “appalling” while Councillor Andrew Gardiner said the council was “inept” for not having a plan in place.

Andrew Dobson, Chief Officer (Regeneration and Planning), said: “The city council stalled the preparation of this work after the public and local politicians had concerns over the level of housing growth advised as necessary by the council’s specialist consultants. Members asked for requirements to be re-considered in the light of revised population and household projections which indicated less growth than previously anticipated. The council will consider those revised projections in the next six months.”

Original figures suggested 12,000 new homes are needed in the district over the next 20 years.

Two of the highest profile developments under way in Lancaster are Luneside East on St George’s Quay (149 homes) and the former Moor Hospital (180 homes).