Residents' anger grows over '˜garden village' plans near lancaster University

Residents living close to a site being earmarked for a 'garden village' have drawn up a petition objecting to the scheme.

Monday, 27th March 2017, 4:00 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:16 pm
Green councillors Caroline Jackson and Abi Mills with Galgate resident Stephen Constantine and Burrow resident Mark Salisbury.

More than 350 people living in areas surrounding the Bailrigg proposals have asked the city council to reconsider the plans, which were announced earlier this year as a “once in a generation opportunity” for Lancaster.

Villagers in Galgate and Burrow say the scheme is “not a garden village but an urban extension to the city of Lancaster”.

Plans for the garden village – one of only 14 in the UK – include 3,500 new home on land close to Lancaster University, and have been hailed by university and council chiefs as a game-changer for the city.

If the scheme is given the green light, the government would give Lancaster a share of £6m to create the village, along with with sustainable transport links and green space.

The homes would be built as part of wider plans for a new uni Innovation Park, transport hub and junction or slip road off the M6.

The development forms a ring around Lancaster University with homes proposed at Whinney Carr down to Ellel to the west of the A6, Burrow Beck Bridge around to Bailrigg Farm to the north of the uni, and land at Hazelrigg and Forrest Hills Golf Club to the east of the M6.

Retired university professor Stephen Constantine said: “It’s not a garden village; it’s a housing estate with trees.”

Mr Constantine collected almost 300 names on a petition from residents in parts of Galgate, while Burrow resident Mark Salisbury collected 68 in the hamlet of Burrow – 90 per cent of the residents.

They were passed to Lancaster City Council via Green councillors Caroline Jackson and Abi Mills.

Mr Constantine, who has lived in the district since 1971, said: “After I read about the plans I went for a walk around the area and I was aghast at the thought of losing it.

“It’s not in Bailrigg and it’s not a garden village.”

Mr Salisbury said: “We joined forces with Galgate and decided to have a closer look at the plans to see what we could do about it.

“It quickly became apparent that everybody had the same view. It was just dropped on us with no due process.

“We did some research into garden villages and this one seemed to be the least green.”

The 35 houses that make up Burrow would be the most affected by the scheme.

Mr Salisbury said: “People accept that you have to move with the times but this is 3,500 houses.”

He said that a development of this size equates to far more than the average 400 new homes built per year; within the expected time frame it is 685 per year.

Mr Constantine added: “The roads couldn’t cope with that amount of traffic. There has been no talk of doing anything to improve the roads.”

Mr Constantine’s wife June said in an objection letter to Lancaster City Council that the scheme was “an expensive, misconceived and counter-productive project”.

“This development is just a housing estate extension of Scotforth, and to describe it otherwise is deceptive,” she said.

“Moreover it is a very large housing estate. The initial plan is for 3,500 houses, though the openly acknowledged option is to extend this later to 5,000 houses.

“Whatever were the attempts to make it pretty, with trees, this ‘Bailrigg Garden Village’ would be another Lancaster housing estate.

“‘Bailrigg Garden Village’ strikes me – and many others, and not just those living south of Lancaster – as an expensive, misconceived and counter-productive project, and also very seriously as a distraction from pressing priorities elsewhere in Lancaster district.”

Residents also raised concerns at a recent public meeting that there are currently numerous empty homes around the district.

“No one is against housing development in the area. The concerns surround the sheer scale, impact and other significant considerations of this plan,” Mr Salisbury added.

Concerns include the pressure that such a scheme would place on already stretched public services such as police, schools, GP surgeries, ambulance service and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

Residents also questioned the available jobs to justify building 3,5000 new homes in south Lancaster, rather than taking advantage of the new Bay Gateway road or canal corridor.

They also felt the proposals would have a devastating impact on the environment and a visual impact on the Forest of Bowland, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Abi Mills, city councillor for Scotforth West, said: “Coun Caroline Jackson and I were pleased to receive the petitions from Galgate and Burrow residents, and to deliver these to the planners on behalf of the residents.

“Having listened to the views of many residents in south Lancaster, the most striking aspect of the Local Plan that concerns residents is the proposed ‘Bailrigg Garden Village’.

“I am not against the concept of a Garden Village and do appreciate the need for new housing in the district, however, the Bailrigg Garden Village will not be a ‘Garden Village’, it is in fact an urban extension that will sprawl from south Lancaster to Galgate.

“However good or bad the design will be, there is no element of village in this.

“The Green Party is concerned about the scale of the plans given that this is based on the highly questionable assumptions of population and job growth.

“We think that there should be a much tighter village proposal which preserves important landscape features, uses up less countryside and which is adequately provided with local schools and amenities.”