Council's local plan gets inspectorate approval


June 18, 2020

Inspector backs Lancaster City Council’s Local Plan

An independent planning inspector has approved Lancaster City Council’s Local Plan.

Following extensive consultation and a series of public hearings last year, the inspector, Richard McCoy, has concluded that the plan can be adopted by the council providing that it incorporates modifications that were discussed at the local hearing sessions and consulted on late last year.

This now ensures that the needs of current and future generations are met in a sustainable and appropriate manner.

The Local Plan allocates land for new housing and employment, while also serving as a check on inappropriate development that is not in accordance with the policies it sets out.

This includes making sure that development proposals meet the needs of the district and that critical elements, such as new infrastructure, come forward in the right place at the right time.

The plan will now be put to councillors for formal adoption, potentially later this summer.

Councillor Janice Hanson, Cabinet member with responsibility for planning policy, said: “This is a landmark moment - the Local Plan sets out a strong vision for the future of our district that will allow the economy to thrive and prosper.

“Communities and developers will also have greater certainty about where development will happen and we will also be in a much stronger position to influence where infrastructure, such as roads and schools, need to be provided.

“It will not, however, be the end of the story and we will need to keep the plan up-to-date and reviewed to reflect current circumstances, not least those created by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Following its formal adoption we also intend to begin an immediate review of the plan to ensure that its policies appropriately and effectively address our stated aims in relation to the Climate Emergency.”

The new Local Plan establishes how much development will take place in the whole of the district – Lancaster, Morecambe, Heysham, Carnforth and the rural areas - and which areas should be protected from development. 

It also updates the policies that are used by the council when considering all planning proposals – for developments large and small.  

Some of the key outcomes of the local plan are to:

•       Identify a broad location for growth in south Lancaster, to include a new settlement - the Bailrigg Garden Village. Masterplanning for the Garden Village can now take place and this will be supported by the preparation of an Area Action Plan for Lancaster South

•       Allocate a strategic development site to the east of Lancaster, at Cuckoo Farm and Ridge Farm

•       Allocate a strategic development site to the north of Lancaster, at Hammerton Hall and Beaumont Hall

•       Support the development of the Canal Quarter for a mix of new uses including residential, cultural and commercial/retail

•       Support development that will enable the retention or the creation of a total of 54,000 full-time equivalent jobs by 2031, including at Lancaster University’s Health Innovation Campus

•       Maintain the policies that enable the council to negotiate for affordable housing from private sector developments

Proposals to allocate land for new homes and a recreational hub on greenbelt land to the south of Windermere Road in Carnforth have been removed from the plan. The inspector did not consider that there was sufficient justification to allow the release of this particular greenbelt site.

He also had concerns about allowing housing development near the working quarry and asphalt plant at Back Lane (to the east of the M6), due to the potential presence of further mineral reserves, such as limestone.  The land will instead be retained as greenbelt.

For more information on the Local Plan visit Lancaster.gov.uk/localplan

Notes to editors

In May 2018 Lancaster City Council submitted the Lancaster Local Plan Part One: Strategic Policies and Land Allocations Development Plan Document and Part Two: Review of the Development Management Development Plan Document - the “Lancaster Local Plan” – to the Government. 

The Government appointed Richard McCoy BSc MSc DipTP MRTPI IHBC to consider if the submitted plan had been soundly prepared.

In April and May 2019 Mr McCoy invited participants to help him consider whether the submitted plan was sound in a series of local hearing sessions.

 To examine the local plan Mr McCoy considered the content of the local plan documents, the evidence that informs them, the comments received during consultation and the discussion at the hearing sessions. 

Following the hearing sessions Mr McCoy invited the council to consult on potential modifications to the local plan. 

The council published the proposed modifications for consultation in August 2019. 

Mr McCoy has now concluded that providing the plan incorporates these changes the council may adopt the new local plan.

The main modifications were subject to public consultation over an eight-week period between August and October 2019. In some cases the Inspector has amended the detailed wording and/or added consequential modifications where necessary.

The council is now able to adopt the modified Local Plan.  It is anticipated that a report on the adoption of the Local Plan will be considered by the council in the summer.

The local plan has taken a long time to prepare. Public consultation on the emerging plan took place in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

The plan was then formally published in May 2018 with a final opportunity to submit comments for the Inspector’s consideration. 

Key issues for the community during the consultation stages included the council’s consultants’ recommendation of housing growth of between 650-700 homes per year and the identification of a new settlement, the Bailrigg Garden Village, to accommodate development within and beyond the next 15 years.