With thanks again to the people who attended the recent drop-in sessions or have otherwise commented on planning application 19/00541/OUT – Lunesfield Quarry, the Town Coucil has now made the following submission to the Planning authority, Lancaster City Council for consideration:
Firstly, many thanks for considering and approving a short extension of time to allow Carnforth Town Council an opportunity to consult with the local community of this important development in the town.
We held two drop-in sessions on Monday 22nd July, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The number of people attending these sessions, whilst relatively low, provided very useful feedback on the views of the local community and helped to consolidate the opinion of the Town Council as a whole.
I have summarised the main points and comments below using headings to help the structure of the Town Council’s response.
Background: The application relates to one of several sites in the Carnforth area that are being brought forward for housing development, some of which relate to land allocates in the (draft) Lancaster District Local Plan. Whilst this application is being considered in isolation, you will be aware that a task group set up by the Town Council is developing a Carnforth Neighbourhood Plan that will provide a strategic view of all future development in the town. We trust that Lancaster City Council’s Planning Committee will also be taking a long-term and strategic view of when considering planning applications such as this application for the erection of up to 250 dwellings.
The Town Council wish to make it clear that they are very much in favour of growth in the town, in principle, and through the Carnforth Neighbourhood Plan will seek to influence development that will help to meet the stated vision and objectives of the neighbourhood plan. Our vision (as revised) is that: ‘Over the plan period, Carnforth will maintain sustainable patters of development through conserving and enhancing the qualities of the built, natural and historic environment by promoting development which reflects the distinct local character areas and encouraging well connected green infrastructure networks.
Cohesive, sustainable transport links will have helped to reduce air pollution in the are supporting active and healthy communities. Together with improvements to pedestrian and cycling links in the area, many more residents, visitors and those working in Carnforth have an efficient alternative to car-based travel.
New growth will meet local needs and will allow Carnforth to become more self-sufficient; with increased support of local tourism, enterprise and community lead events.
Planning Application 19/00541/OUT: The key issues arising directly from this application are set out below:
1. Access and traffic: There is only one proposed access point to the development, from Kellet Road into the town via a narrow, weight restricted canal bridge with a single lane traffic flow across the bridge controlled by traffic lights. Traffic already queues at these lights and at certain times of the day backs up along Kellet Road where there are two schools, a church hall used by pre-school children and through the residential area.
With up to 250 new dwellings, the traffic flow will inevitably increase, substantially adding to the existing problems along this stretch of road, particularly when considering further traffic that will be generated by visitors to the development.
Emergency services regularly travel on Kellet Road from the A6 and M6 with the additional traffic and single flow across the bridge their chances of attending emergencies quickly will be impaired.
The Town Council and many members of the local community are strongly of the view that there should be (at least) a second access to the development, such as around the Windermere Road/Back Lane area of the town. It is considered that this could be achieved reactively easily given that there are several potential access points around the proposed development.
2. Air Quality: Carnforth is a designated Air Quality. Management Area and the Town Council continues to work closely with City and County Council colleagues to maintain and improve air quality which is a major concern for our local community.
The Town Council has been made aware of the fact that Homes England have been advised that one access point is enough for the proposed development and we understand that the City Council’s Air Quality Officer has suggested that no further mitigation is necessary.
Whilst the Town Council acknowledges their advice, it maintains that given current congestion, additional properties at Lundsfield Quarry and other developments, both current and proposed, could have a negative impact on air quality. As an example, the re-development of an industrial site at Keer Park, with associated additional HGV movements on Market Street and through the A6 junction is already a concern, any additional vehicular burden at this junction and related congestion will lead to more idling vehicles and increased air pollution.
Although the Town Council has noted air quality dispersion modelling carried out by the applicant it is not satisfied that such modelling adequately predicts the impact of stationary traffic on ground level pollution.
Lancashire County Council has a statutory duty to ensure that air quality standards are met and, as such, the Town Council seeks formal assurances that the additional traffic flow associated with the development and future occupation of the site, as well as adjacent sites, will not adversely affect air quality in the town. The rationale behind any such assumption is also requested.
3. Housing types: As part of the developing Carnforth Neighbourhood Plan the working group has been awarded technical support for a Housing Needs Assessment. Work on this is about to commence and should be completed within 12 weeks. The results of this is likely to inform the Town Council’s position but there is a consensus that the town desperately needs affordable housing.
A key element of the Carnforth Neighbourhood Plan is that it will welcome development in the neighbourhood area, albeit subject to the right type, tenure and size, which is being confirmed through the housing needs assessment. With this is mind the working group have just also made an application for technical support relating to design codes, which may take up to six months to complete.
As things stand now, the consensus is that the Lundsfield Quarry development needs a ‘good mix’ and it has been suggested that up to 50% of the properties should fall into the category of affordable housing.
4. Sustainability and the environment: The Town Council, and residents attending the drop-ins are keen that any new properties are built with sustainability in mine, whether that be from the materials used or with solar capability, whether that be a built-in design of the properties or can be easily added to properties later.
A further technical support package currently being applied for as part of the developing Carnforth Neighbourhood Plan is Design including design codes. Both the Neighbourhood Plan Working Group and the Town Council hope to use this package to ensure that any development is influenced by, and reflects the views of, the local community. A key part of this will not only be that homes are designed in a way that respects existing assets but that schemes also:
– encourage walking and cycling;
– reduce the impact of traffic and;
– provide open space that benefits the wider neighbourhood
As part of this, the Town Council and residents feel that the proposals should, for example, provide footpath links across the towpath rather than as ‘potential for a footpath link as currently indicated.
Residents have raised the point that it is unclear whether there are bus routes planned to service the community at Lundsfield Quarry – which, they argue, would also support a dual access onto the development for public transport to be able to operate safely and effectively.
Concerns have been raised about the plans for the ‘last remaining trees along Kellet Road’ as part of the Lundsfield development. There was a strong feeling that they, and the local habit generally (birds, newts, bats etc) should be preserved and that the plans include ways to ‘co-exist with nature and protects natural habitats’ all of which provide positive benefits on our well-being and help to maintain clean air.
5. Consultation process and planning variations: The Town Council has previously made its views known on the consultation process to date. Planning documents claim that there has been a ‘…structured engagement and ongoing consultation with stakeholders and the local community about the proposals during the pre-application period’. This is certainly not the view of the Town Council or, importantly, residents and other stakeholders including Carnforth Rangers Football Club.
It would be fair to say that the consultation undertaken by Homes England last year only resulted from the intervention of the Town Council and other stakeholders. At the drop-in event several residents and representatives from Carnforth Rangers FC were vocal about the perceived lack of engagement with the local community on important matters relating to this application.
It was also noted that the previous outline application for the site was based on 200 dwellings being developed over three phases. Carnforth Rangers FC representatives made the point that the final phase was to be the development of a new football ground at an alternative site. The latest plans are for 250 dwellings being built around the existing football area, without any apparent improvement to the provision of the football facilities or access, or consideration of the impact that match day traffic will have on the site and gaining access to the football pitches.
Conclusion: The Town Council and, importantly, the local community largely recognises the opportunity that a development on the Lundsfield Quarry site will have for the long-term future for the town. That said, there are also several conditions and concerns that need to be addressed.
Specifically, in relation to increased traffic and air quality, it is the Town Council’s view that the development at Lundsfield Quarry and the piecemeal development of land to the South of Carnforth will see incremental growth of traffic onto Kellet Road and through the Town Centre. This will, in our view, have a negative impact on local schools and residents along Kellet Road, and an adverse effect on air quality at points where vehicles are held in traffic.
The view of the Town Council is that the Lundsfield Quarry site (and adjacent areas currently allocated in the Lancaster District Local Plan) would benefit from a road over the canal from around the Crag Bank roundabout to the development site. Another suggestion, made at the drop-in event, was to have a second bridge over the canal at Kellet Road thereby making it suitable for two-way traffic.
In any event, the Town Council and many in the local community believe that a second access/egress point at Windermere Road, or another suitable link road is needed.
Any future development must have regard to and be in keeping with the developing Carnforth Neighbourhood Plan that should reach the ‘referendum’ stage early next year and will include a vision of the town over the period of the plan that address traffic management, clean air, local character, the need for affordable homes, sustainability and the local environment.
The Town Council requests that the Planning Committee considers the matters raised in our direct response to this application and that clear and effective arrangements are in place for the Town Council to have early engagement with City Planning Officers and any prospective developer going forward.