Residents' objections to south Lancaster garden village scheme 'recognised' by city council
Hundreds of objections to the plans for Bailrigg Garden Village have led the city council to acknowledge that residents' concerns must be addressed.
The masterplan for Bailrigg Garden Village is due to be completed this month by architects JTP - but residents living near the proposed site say the consultation process has been too short and that their concerns have been ignored.
But after hearing from residents, councillors have now acknowledged the frustration experienced, and agreed that further consultation must take their views into account.
In January 2021, the council announced that it had appointed JTP Architects to undertake ‘masterplanning’ for the garden village.
This led to a petition being launched, complaining about the rushed timescale for consultation and raising concerns about flooding, biodiversity, air quality, traffic flows and confusion over housing numbers.
Lancaster Vision also raised concerns about the latest plans for 5,000 homes on the site.
More than 700 residents living in Galgate and south Lancaster signed the petition, which asked the city council to withdraw the consultation on the masterplan and to put in place a new consultation process to address their objections.
Residents said they have received no response to their objections, and were concerned that JTP's intention to complete their masterplan this month would not provide adequate time for proper considerations of their views.
They also said the electronic platform for submitting objections was inadequate, and many residents did not receive the JTP consultation leaflet and therefore were unfairly excluded from the process.
Addressing last Wednesday's full council meeting, Barbara Walker spoke on behalf of the residents.
"This is not about preventing Bailrigg Garden Village," she said. "It is to ensure that the communities which will be most affected by its construction have had meaningful involvement in its design.
"The JTP consultation has not enabled the community to respond in a constructive way. Lancaster's rushed consultation only cements the conclusion that the views of Lancaster residents are not being sufficiently considered.
"Our concerns relate to the climate emergency, flood risk, air quality, and biodiversity - plus such matters as road access, sustainable transport, shops, schools, health care, bus transport, cycle routes and footpaths.
"It is still unknown how many houses, including affordable ones, are proposed, or where they are to be located in an area now including land marked as a possible extension of the garden village west to Conder Green.
"We accept that the masterplan is not the end of this process and further detailed planning stages are to take place, including an Area Action Plan and associated Design Codes.
"However, the masterplan is the foundation on which this whole endeavour is based and therefore it should not be rushed.
"But with the masterplan being aired for the first time on March 2 and the final consultation on March 23 this can hardly be held up as anything akin to a meaningful consultation.
"Our request to the council is that the current consultation must be replaced by one that is more measured and includes the local community at its heart as equals.
"While the garden village would affect directly very few council wards and therefore only a minority of councillors, the matter for debate here is one of democratic consultation that respects local people."
Responding to the address, Coun Janice Hanson, deputy leader of the council, said she recognised the frustration experienced by residents.
She asked that council "notes the substantive issues raised by this petition and requests that the Director for Economic Growth and Regeneration engage with sponsors of the petition to address their concerns."
In particular, it was requested that this engagement should provide an analysis of responses provided by local residents during the current masterplanning process and, as appropriate, explanations where the responses have not informed the masterplan.
Coun Hanson asked that consultation on the subsequent South Lancaster Area Action Plans should include structured questions and provide feedback to those registering comments/objections.
This was seconded by Coun Gina Dowding, and supported by other councillors with just one abstention.