|St George's Walk at Luneside East:|
The draft planning layout
Local residents living adjacent to the Luneside East redevelopment site are strongly opposed to specific aspects of the plans and so frustrated at the lack of public consultation, that they have called a public meeting and invited Persimmon Homes to attend along with City Councillors and landowners, Luneside East Ltd. However Persimmon have now declined the invitation (see their full response below).
The public meeting is open to everyone and will be held on Thursday 1st May at 6.30pm at the Friends Meeting House, Meeting House Lane, LA1 1TX.
Andrew Dobson, the Council's Chief Officer for Regeneration and Planning, told Virtual-Lancaster:
"We understand that this meeting has been called in the belief that the city council’s Planning Committee will be making a decision on the application on Tuesday May 6. This is incorrect.
"The current position is that the city council has made Persimmon Homes aware of a number of matters that will require further amendment before the application can be considered.
"If significant amendments to the scheme are received, then the council will ensure that local residents are consulted for their views again.
"There is therefore currently no scheduled date for reporting the planning application to the Planning Committee."
Removal of landmark
Residents claim that the proposed plans deviate quite markedly from previous plans seen by residents, and controversially include the removal of trees and the old railway embankment bordering Long Marsh Lane. A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) was placed on the trees on the embankment on April 3rd, although this can be overturned if planning permission is granted.
(See previous story: Luneside East Planning Application breaks promises, residents claim)
There are also concerns over vehicular access to Long Marsh Lane. In all the original plans, cars were intended to access the site via St.George’s Quay, with only cycle and pedestrian access onto Long Marsh Lane. Persimmon’s proposal would see over 12% of the proposed properties with direct access from their driveways onto this narrow lane.
Residents point out that it will be physically impossible to access these driveways due to the narrow nature of the lane, not to mention the increased traffic that these vehicles would generate on a lane currently used more by pedestrians and cyclists than motorists.
The residents’ view is echoed by Lancashire County Council Highways in their consultation response which recommends that the application should be refused.
The Lancaster City Council’s website heralds Luneside East as:
“a new quarter of the city with a mix of housing, commercial space, high quality open spaces and walking and cycling routes. The development aims to be a landmark in urban regeneration and high quality design and be an exemplar of sustainable development”.
Plans too vague
Such a development would certainly be an asset. However statutory consultees have complained that the submitted plans are too vague and open to be acceptable. The County Highways Department have recommended in their consultation response that the application should be refused, stating:
"In view of the number of outstanding issues pertinent to the application - yet to be addressed, I must ask that planning permission is refused on the grounds that the consequences of a lack of information would be construed as being detrimental to highway safety and residential amenity should the application be granted planning approval."
A place to live?
Sarah Robinson, Urban Design Officer for Lancaster City Council in her response to the Persimmon Homes application stated that:
"The applicant also fails to consider how the Luneside East development fits together as a whole”. She added, "It seems that the applicant has only considered the site in plan format and not what it would look like in reality." and that, “No consideration has been given to creating a sense of place, using the streetscape to create a place and connect to the surrounding area”
Local resident Julia Russell explains her disappointment with the proposed plan:
“After 16 years of consultation regarding the site and the local community was, on the whole, supportive of the plans previously put forward to develop the brownfield site. This new plan is drastically different from those we were shown even as recently as March 2013. We had always been promised that the old railway embankment and the trees would be retained as part of green spaces on the site. These trees are visible from all across this side of Lancaster, offer visual pleasure to local residents and if retained would only serve to enhance the site.
"Persimmon’s plan is for 170 houses with none of the public green spaces or children’s park area we were promised. This is not high quality urban regeneration, it is simply suburban sprawl.”
Andy Pepper, Planning and Strategic Manager at Persimmon Homes Lancashire said:
"Managing Director Mark Cook and I will be attending a small meeting at Lancaster Town Hall on Monday (April 28) along with Guy Illingworth, director of land owner Luneside East Limited, some community representatives and council officers.
“We were invited to the public meeting on May 1, but it was felt that as our application is still under consideration by Lancaster City Council our attendance would not necessarily be productive.
“We will continue to work with officers to ensure that our proposals receive their support and of course residents are still able to comment on the application in the usual way via representations to the city council.”
(Update: We hear you can email comments directly to the council at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com stating that you are commenting on application 13/01200/REM)
A petition at www.change.org has been started to save the trees and oppose the planning application and already has nearly 600 signatures.
Persimmon's online publicity for the development can be seen at http://www.persimmonhomes.com/st-georges-walk-10290, which helpfully informs prospective buyers that '....nearby Ryelands Park and Quay Meadows provide welcome green spaces....'