Lancaster residents continue to raise concerns over University of Cumbria development plans ahead of council decision

Residents living close to the University of Cumbria's Lancaster campus say they "have simply been ignored" despite more than 50 objections to some of the university's redevelopment plans.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 12:30 pm

The university unveiled its plans for the Lancaster campus last April and invited the public to take part in a pre-application consultation.

However, despite recently made changes to its three planning applications - which were submitted to the city council last June and July - residents living near the Bowerham site say they are annoyed that despite nearly 50 objections to some of the plans, they "have simply been ignored".

Their objections relate to the plan to demolish the tennis courts adjacent to the all-weather games area on the campus and build a two-storey supported living facility, and cover matters relating to both national and local planning guidelines and policies including distance from neighbouring properties, privacy, access and transport issues.

Residents and other members of the public who use the access path are objecting to the plans.
Residents and other members of the public who use the access path are objecting to the plans.

Speaking on behalf of residents living in the Anderson Close, Coulston Road, Wyresdale Road and nearby streets, Richard Kenworthy said: "We are pleased to see that University of Cumbria and their partners were prepared to take on board certain issues raised by professional consultees such as environmental health, police etc and make design changes to some of the buildings on two of the other applications, but it is all the more galling to discover that no attempt has been made to address the many issues raised by local residents regarding the supported living facility, such as the distance from neighbouring properties, overshadowing, privacy, community access, transport and wildlife issues.

"These are all relevant planning objections and should have been taken into account by the university and its partners.

"The land that they will be removing from public access includes the grass triangle and banking at the end of Anderson Close that is in daily use by local pedestrians, dog walkers, members of the community and their children.

"In particular the grass banking was very popular with sledgers after the recent snowfalls.”

Residents have erected the black screen to show how close the development would be to their homes in Clougha Avenue.

Mr Kenworthy added that residents cannot understand why County Highways have given their approval to the plans.

"Anderson Close is certainly not wide enough to function as an access road to the proposed supported living facility," he said.

"Clearly all three schemes will only increase existing levels of traffic, adding to the congestion and the risk of accidents. Residents were very clear in their opposition to these plans because of worsening the existing parking and traffic issues which have been going on for many years now."

The plans - which are due to go before Lancaster City Council's planning committee on March 1 - are split into three main elements:

A drone view of the development area at the University of Cumbria's Lancaster campus.

*Demolition of buildings and erection of a new four-storey extra care residential building overlooking Coulston Road, and the conversion of Barbon Hall and Hornby Hall into affordable residential apartments.

*Demolition of an existing 10-storey tower and other buildings and building a new seven-storey building with a bigger footprint including residential student accommodation in cluster flat arrangements.

*Redevelopment of tennis courts by creating new retaining walls on the slopes and building up the existing ground levels to form a new access road leading from the turning circle of nearby Anderson Close to a new two-storey supported living facility comprising 13 one-bedroom flats.

Mr Kenworthy said: "The public would no longer be able to use the triangle of level ground at the top of the slope which would be fenced off to provide car parking.

Residents have erected the black screen to show how close the development would be to their homes in Clougha Avenue.

"Existing mature trees and hedges will be removed, and the colony of bats using this area for feeding will be forced to go elsewhere.

"Access on Anderson Close is difficult enough without any extra traffic."

Residents say the plans also break planning guidelines because the building would be too close to houses in Clougha Avenue.

Planning regulations however state the required distance between properties does not apply to obscure windows, only to clear glass windows.

“The height of the two-storey building will overshadow our properties and restrict the daylight and sunlight reaching our houses and gardens in the afternoons,” said Michael Parkinson, who lives in one of the houses in Clougha Avenue which the development would back onto.

“Trees that they intend to plant just inside their fence will grow to put our garden in shade."

A spokesman for the University of Cumbria said: "The university and developer undertook a public pre-application consultation exercise in April 2020, and used this information to inform a number of changes to the scheme.

"The planning application is due to be considered by the Lancaster City Council planning committee on 1st March 2021. The planning application has also been subject to public consultation by the city council."