Controversial plans for 70 new homes on Lancaster farmland 'would cause substantial harm' to landscape

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Plans for up to 70 homes to be built on farmland near Lancaster city centre would cause "significant harm” to an important green space, city councillors have been told.

WVC Lancaster Limited wants to build the development on land north of Ashford House in Ashton Road.

They say the scheme would "considerably add to the supply of housing" in the city, and provide more benefits than the previously refused proposals for two holiday lets or a single property at the site.

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Part of the 3.55 hectare site is considered to be previously developed land with a horse boarding stable, paddock, arena, and associated access. The remainder of the site consists of agricultural land.

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

The homes would be split between 25% first homes, 37.5% shared ownership and 37.5% affordable rented in accordance with guidelines.

Housing would be a mix of two, three and four-bedroom, as well as bungalows and apartments.

With improvements to the road next to the site, they say a safe and attractive link could be provided to the canal towpath.

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However, as we reported in February, the scheme has been met with objections by residents concerned that a popular canalside space would be lost as a result.

And now city council officers have also raised concerns about the scheme, and have recommended it be refused.

Residents have lodged more than 75 concerns, particularly over the high number of plans for new houses in the area and the subsequent impact on traffic.

They have also highlighted the dangers for cyclists along the route, as well as the detrimental effect the plans could have on people's enjoyment of the popular canal path.

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Concern has also been raised about the detrimental effect on wildlife in the area.

One resident said: "This area is integral to our Lancaster heritage. The canal and British Waterways area of natural beauty should be maintained and unspoiled for the support of wildlife and birds and for the enjoyment of everyone in Lancaster and visitors to Lancaster.

"Already there are thousands of houses being considered for south Lancaster. The development onto the canal corridor is totally unnecessary."

The Lancaster Group of the Ramblers Association has also objected to the application.

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Council officers have recommended the plans be turned down by the planning committee when they meet to discuss the plans on Monday June 19.

They say: "The proposed site is located within a valued landscape, designated as an Urban Setting Landscape, alongside Lancaster Canal that forms an important green space network in the district.

"The character of the area is open, rural, and tranquil and provides an important visual frame to the existing urban area and offers a peaceful retreat along the canal from the urban area.

"The proposal for residential development fails to preserve the open nature and character of the area resulting in significant harm to the landscape character of the site, the visual amenity of the area and the value and integrity of the canal corridor as an important green space.

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"Given the particular characteristics of this site and wider Urban Setting Landscape and canal corridor, it is considered that the substantial harm identified would in this case significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the proposal."

Representatives of the committee are scheduled to visit the site on Monday ahead of the meeting.