Developer loses appeal to build 108 new homes in south Lancaster

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Lancaster City Council has successfully defended its decision to refuse planning permission for a new housing development in Galgate.

The scheme by Wainhomes (North West) Limited proposed up to 108 dwellings at land to the west of Highland Brow.

In March 2023 the city council refused the outline planning application on seven grounds, including highway impact, ecological impacts and flooding concerns.

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Wainhomes appealed against the decision and a public inquiry was held over two weeks in February and March 2024.

The proposed building site in Galgate under water.The proposed building site in Galgate under water.
The proposed building site in Galgate under water.

Following the inquiry, the Government’s planning inspector, Katie McDonald, noted that there was an acute shortage of housing in the area, including affordable housing, and that this was a material consideration during the appeal.The inspector was also persuaded that the development would deliver some off-site highway works that, in her opinion, would be beneficial. But the applicant failed to satisfy concerns regarding flooding, particularly a requirement that new housing development should be directed to sites that are sequentially preferable in terms of flood risk.This, said the inspector, was “of overriding substantial weight, given that there could be other sites that are sequentially preferable to develop that would avoid flood risk”. The inspector concluded that the matter was sufficient to outweigh the “totality of matters weighing in favour of the proposal”.Councillor Sandra Thornberry, chair of the Planning and Regulatory Committee, welcomed the decision and the clarity provided by the inspector regarding developers’ obligations concerning flood risk.

“The city council was of the view that this housing development was unacceptable for a combination of reasons,” she said.

“I’m pleased that the inspector’s conclusions on flood risk were so explicit, and it is equally pleasing that her comments echo the professional opinion of our planning officers and of the members of the Planning Regulatory Committee. I would advise all developers to take note of the inspector’s conclusions regarding flood risk.”

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Ellel Councillor Sally Maddocks has supported residents in their opposition to the scheme from the start, over 18 months ago.

Sally said: “This may turn out to be a landmark decision and likely to have a bearing on other applications on sites subject to flood risk in the Lancaster district.

“National planning policy states that development should not be permitted on a site if there are reasonably available sites in other areas with a lower risk of flooding.

"This is referred to as the sequential test. The inspector determined that Wain Homes did not provide evidence of an adequate sequential test.

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"The developer had not set out why alternative sites elsewhere in the district could not be used.

Residents in Meadow Park, and in Galgate more widely, are relieved and delighted by the decision.

"I was pleased I could contribute to their campaign in a meaningful and positive way.

"This decision has helped a lot of residents sleep better at night without the constant worry of the homes being flooded because of the proposed development above them.”

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Sally added: “If the developer does come back with a new proposal, it will have to be assessed against national planning policy rules which were revised in December 2023, and in the light of the planning inspector’s decision.”

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