A state-of-the-art garden village – one of only 14 in the UK – will be a “once in a generation opportunity” for Lancaster.
Plans for a new 3,500-home community at Bailrigg have been hailed by university and council chiefs as a game-changer for the city. University vice-chancellor Mark E Smith called it an “exciting opportunity”.
The government plans to give Lancaster a share of £6m to create a village with sustainable transport links and green space. Homes would be built surrounding Lancaster University as part of wider plans for a new uni Innovation Park, transport hub and junction or slip road off the M6.
Plans at Bailrigg and other sites around Lancaster University can now be worked up as part of the city council’s Local Plan for new housing.
The development forms a ring around Lancaster University with homes proposed at Whinney Carr down to Ellel to the west of the A6, Burrow Beck Bridge around to Bailrigg Farm to the north of the uni, and land at Hazelrigg and Forrest Hills Golf Club to the east of the M6.
Lancaster City Council said that at the heart of the garden village concept is the creation of a new settlement with its own distinct character, with high quality design, communal facilities and community green space which will “bring people together and forge a true community spirit”.
Coun Janice Hanson, Lancaster City Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and planning, said it is a “once in a generation opportunity” which will “respect and reflect the ethical beliefs of the local community”.
Lancaster 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.”
The proposal also includes a transport hub based at the university, new access points and a new bus route circling part of the site.
Lancaster University’s proposed new Innovation Campus at Bailrigg would be located inside the new “village”, with wooded and landscaped areas surrounding much of the site.
A map showing access points off the M6 appears to show what could be a new junction or slip road off the motorway, connecting the site to the east and west.
Garden villages are designed to have their own character, a sense of being a separate place, and sustainable travel connections through public transport and cycling.
The city council said it will now receive tailored government support to help deliver the proposals, which aim to accommodate new homes without seriously harming the character and feeling of scale in the city.
Coun Janice Hanson, cabinet member responsible for Regeneration and Planning, said: “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.”
The next stage is for the council to work with 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.
Lancaster University will be a key partner in delivery of the plans.
The government’s housing and planning Minister Gavin Barwell said: “Locally-led garden towns and villages have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need.
“New communities not only deliver homes, they also bring new jobs and facilities and a big boost to local economies.”