|The concept plan for Bailrigg Garden Village|
Lancaster Vision, a group attached to Lancaster Civic Society, has welcomed news of the go ahead for a new Garden Village centred on Bailrigg - and has suggested a competition for arhitects and designers to come up with a Masterplan for its look.
Earlier this month, the Government, working with local councils, announced four new garden villages, settlements of between 1,500 and 10,000 homes, will be built in the North West, with backing from a £6m Government fund.
The four North West locations - Bailrigg in Lancaster, St Cuthberts near Carlisle, Cumbria, Halsnead in Knowsley, Merseyside and Handforth in Cheshire East - form part of the first wave of 14 garden villages announced by the Government, totalling 48,000 homes
The villages are an expansion of the existing garden towns programme, and will have access to a £6m fund over the next two financial years.
The next stage is for the council to work with local communities and land owners in a sophisticated master planning exercise to shape proposals and design the key infrastructure needed to make it work and manage land drainage.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity to extend Lancaster’s housing supply in a manner which respects and reflects the ethical beliefs of the local community," commented Councillor Janice Hanson, Cabinet Member responsible for Regeneration and Planning earlier this month. "In last year’s consultation into developing a new Local Plan for the district, local people told us that the Bailrigg area was the preferred area for growth.
“Designing it as a garden village gives us the chance to deliver this growth in a carefully considered approach, with the university campus and sustainable transport networks.”
Lancaster University, which has its own expansion plans including the Lancaster Innovation Campus, will be a key partner in delivery of the plans. The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Mark E. Smith said: “The University is pleased to be working in close partnership with Lancaster City Council to develop a Masterplan for this exciting garden village opportunity for the Lancaster community.”
"One of the key strengths of the bid is that it brings together Lancaster University and Lancashire County Council with Lancaster City Council in a joint enterprise which should continue in operation for at least ten and quite probably twenty years," notes Lancaster Vision spokesperson Martin Widden.
"This will be of great benefit to Lancaster District throughout this period, and beyond.
"We strongly support the ideas set out in the bid document that the new Garden Village should be a best practice exemplar,: he continues, "bringing design quality to volume house building and accommodating innovative new forms of pre-constructed housing. Lancaster is a distinctive place: housing built here should recognise the special features of the City and District, in design and choice of materials, and respecting the local land form."
Lancaster Vision hope the project will feature modern designs of housing, aiming for high levels of sustainability and low energy consumption.
"We emphasise that the design of the new housing should be original, based on the needs of the locality and on the materials available; although respecting its neighbours, it should not be a pastiche of older forms of housing in the District, nor of housing elsewhere," says Martin.
"As the bid states, the key to success will be a robust masterplan, with very firm design objectives and standards, and the new Garden Village should ‘create a step change in the return to high standards and local distinctiveness.’ It is vital to get this right at the outset.
"We strongly recommend that a competition be held among architects and designers for the Masterplan for the new Garden Village. This will be a major contract: a number of firms should be invited to submit proposals, and the decision as to which firm to employ should be taken by a panel comprising the City, the County, Lancaster University, and local interests.
"It would be a mistake to decide which firm to work with before viewing their proposals in competition with others."
Lancaster Vision was formed in December 2012 with the aim of bringing together people and groups with an interest in securing the best outcome and increased prosperity for the Lancaster District with the opening up of Lancaster Castle.The group has been formed under the umbrella of the Lancaster Civic Society but membership is open to all.
• Anyone interested in joining should contact Martin Widden (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). New members are always welcome
• View the Bailrigg Garden Village plan - objectives, scale and planning status - on the Lancaster City Council web site (PDF)