Controversial Carnforth housing plans given green light

The housing site in Carnforth
The housing site in Carnforth
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Controversial plans to build up to 158 homes on farmland in Carnforth have been given the go-ahead.

Residents at a planning and highways meeting on Monday reacted angrily as councillors voted in favour of an outline development on land between Brewers Barn and the A601 (M) at Carnforth Brow.

The development site in Carnforth

The development site in Carnforth

If the development goes ahead, the A601 (M) will have its motorway designation removed, and a new roundabout, estimated to cost £1.75m will be the main access to the site. More than 85 letters of objection were received by Lancaster City Council, with grievances including inappropriate and unsustainable location and access, an increase in traffic along North Road and Carnforth in general, public safety, flood risk, and a lack of consultation.

Former city councillor Stuart Langhorn, who lives in Whernside Grove, which borders the site, said: “People have the right to a decent quality of life. You’re not providing that if you approve this application.”

Concern was also raised about electricity power lines and a high powered underground gas main crossing the site. Conditions on the planning approval mean that the development cannot go ahead until the A601 (M) has its motorway designation removed, and a new roundabout is put into place to access the site.

An independent report commissioned by the city council was posted on its website, but was taken down two days later.

Planning officer Andrew Drummond said the confidential document, which stated that the development wasn’t a viable proposition, was posted on the council’s website in error.

Councillors were also told that the site is more than double the recommended distance to public transport - 920m instead of the recommended 400m. In addition to this, the usual 40 per cent affordable housing premise was reduced to 30 per cent to make the scheme viable.

Coun Peter Yates said it was a “complete no-no” to put more traffic onto North Road, which already suffers from congestion, and that the suggestion that people could use the canal towpath to access services in Carnforth was “bordering on ludicrous”.

Council leader Eileen Blamire said this was one of the most difficult applications the committee had dealt with.

She added: “I was very much minded to vote against this, but I can’t find any planning reasons to do this.

“I hope residents understand how difficult it is for everyone sitting here.”

Carnforth and Mill Gead Coun John Reynolds said at the meeting: “The suggestion that families, children, can use an unlit canal tow path to access schools and services in Carnforth is laughable, and yet another example of the lack of thought and consideration given to developing this site. I’d urge committee members to consider this before you vote on this application today. Would you allow your son or daughter, your grandchild, to walk to and from school along an unlit path, dangerously close to deep water? I wouldn’t, and I don’t expect any responsible parent would either, so why would this committee expect that the residents of this site to do so?

“I have been contacted by residents concerned about flooding, people who have seen this land flood over many decades, road safety, public safety, traffic management, viability, sustainability, business impact and I could go on and on. None are so called nimby’s, these are all genuinely concerned people who. Support growth in Carnforth, support this councils local plan suggestions to develop land to the east of the town, but not here.”

Councillors voted nine in favour, with four against, and five abstentions.