Villagers fight to be heard on rural housing

Proposed development land in Halton
Proposed development land in Halton

Lancaster City Council has been accused of “neglecting the rural voice” in relation to new housing developments in the district.

The parish councils and residents in Halton and the Kellets say that planning officers “don’t want to listen” to rural concerns about development, and have become a “Lancaster-centric” authority.

The two Lune Valley parishes are calling on the council to safeguard the identity of village communities, and not end up being connected by ribbon developments to the city.

Brian Jefferson, from Halton Parish Council, said: “Our villages are rural in character and have been sustained as communities separate from the urban centre of Lancaster - in some cases for over one thousand years.

“There is a big lack of discussion with the rural area about what is going to happen.

“Planning officers don’t seem to want to listen to rural concerns and we now have a Lancaster-centric council on our hands with a top down way of doing things.” Mr Jefferson said that the beauty of the Lune Valley, “preserved since Turner’s day” was in danger of losing its identity.

Residents in the two villages are now calling on Lancaster City Council to safeguard the sense of identity of village communities, protect and enhance the social, economic, and environmental sustainability required by current and future rural residents and respect the visual amenity associated with the landscapes surrounding rural settlements.

Mr Jefferson referred to the Lancaster City Council Planning Handbook 2000, which says: “In responding to pressures for new development the City Council will look to guard against inappropriate change and protect the character of villages”.

He added: “We are unaware of any change to this commitment by the city council.”

He said the development in Halton that had really upset residents was for over 60 new homes at Forgewood, which he said was outside what was always regarded as the built up environment of the village.

He said that Halton Parish Council was currently investigating whether the council followed due process in granting the application.

Kellet Ward City Coun Roger Mace and Carnforth City Coun Mel Guilding will be presenting a motion to full council on September 23 outlining the concerns to councillors.

A petition has garnered 360 signatures from residents in Halton and the Kellet wards.