Housing set to ‘decimate’ Lancaster district as petition turned down

Our district is 'under siege' from housing developers, claims a city councillor.
Our district is 'under siege' from housing developers, claims a city councillor.
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Our district is “under siege” from housing developers, claims a city councillor.

Councillor Paul Woodruff said giving developers carte blanche to build on greenfield sites to solve a housing crisis would put the area into “a downward spiral”.

Coun Woodruff, longtime ward councillor for Halton-with-Aughton, spoke at a Lancaster City Council meeting at Morecambe Town Hall after Halton resident Paul Hartley delivered a 200-strong petition to the council asking for housing plans in the village to be suspended – including 60 planned houses in a crops field off Forgewood Drive.

Coun Woodruff said: “We can’t take any more, the developers have us under siege. They are putting houses everywhere they possibly can. We have lost the west side of the village to the second-rate concrete jungle of the M6 link road and now if this development came to light, it would be the start of the downward spiral of the east side of Halton.

“Be careful, because the next village to be decimated, could be yours.”

Mr Hartley asked councillors to defer planning applications on greenfield sites in Halton because the village is preparing a neighbourhood plan, which enables a community to decide for itself where a new development will be located.

But the council quoted a recent case where the High Court allowed an appeal against a decision to refuse 120 houses in Sussex due to an emerging neighbourhood plan.

Mr Hartley said afterwards: “We are being left defenceless against predatory planning applications and the council is toothless to stop them.”

The council also came under fire for not having a finalised land allocations plan to set housing targets for the district. Coun Woodruff called this “appalling” while Councillor Andrew Gardiner said the council was “inept” for not having a plan in place.

Andrew Dobson, Chief Officer (Regeneration and Planning), said: “The city council stalled the preparation of this work after the public and local politicians had concerns over the level of housing growth advised as necessary by the council’s specialist consultants.

Members asked for requirements to be re-considered in the light of revised population and household projections which indicated less growth than previously anticipated. The council will consider those revised projections in the next six months.”

Original figures suggested 12,000 new homes are needed in the district over the next 20 years.