Potential setback for 500 new homes and Carnforth Rangers FC ground

A NORTH Lancashire town is set to “miss out” on new affordable houses, a new school and a new home for its football club, according to a developer.

The concerns centre on a parcel of land at Carnforth which had been earmarked for 500 homes in the draft local plan being drawn up by Lancaster County Council.

Proposals for the site south of Windermere Road, included a primary school, a new home for Carnforth Rangers FC and a new park.

However, the government planning inspector, Richard McCoy, wants to see the “strategic” site removed from the local plan because of its potential for minerals to be extracted.

A consultation on the inspector’s proposed changes closed on October 7, and he is now considering his final decision.

In the meantime, dismay has been expressed by developer H20 Urban LLP, which has worked with local people to design plans for the site.

“The inspector seems to have decided the land south of Windermere Road should be safeguarded for future blasting and quarrying, even though it is right next to existing residential homes,” said the London-based developer in a statement.

“There is no evidence land south of Windermere Road is technically suitable or viable for minerals extraction.

“We think locals would be very concerned if proposals came forward for more quarrying in Carnforth, which is what the inspector seems to be suggesting.”

It added: “We have worked closely with the local community to design a scheme which includes 500 homes, comprising 200 affordable and 300 market homes, a new primary school, a community sports hub and a new home for Carnforth Rangers FC, plus a new park and green network.

“Carnforth now risks losing out on these benefits affecting the future generation of young people in particular.

“We call on local people and politicians to stand up for Carnforth and ask the city council to reject the inspector’s report.”

A spokesman for Carnforth Rangers FC said: “We are very disappointed with the removal of this site from the local plan. This site was going to provide Carnforth and our club with some much-needed new facilities which are no longer going to be provided for elsewhere. Carnforth is missing out again.”

Carnforth Town Council has responded to the inspector’s proposed changes, saying it is “disappointed to see references to improvements to infrastructure removed” from the draft local plan.

The council is concerned about traffic movement through the town, especially delays at the Market Street/A6 junction, and impact on air quality.

It says the town already has “a number of excellent schools” and it understands there are enough places to accommodate growth.

It added: “We continue to work closely with the city and county councils to ensure development is appropriate and strikes the best balance between growth and maintaining the heritage in our town.”

Lancaster City Council said the local plan must provide “enough opportunity for new housing, employment and other types of development to be achieved until the early 2030s”.

The council submitted its draft plan to the Government in May 2018, and inspector Richard McCoy was appointed to independently examine the plan to see if it had been “soundly prepared”.

Mr McCoy held his local plan hearing sessions in April and May this year. After the close of the hearing sessions he wrote to the city council instructing it to prepare a list of the potential changes to the plan that were confirmed at the hearings sessions. He also directed the council to consult on two further potential changes to the plan, including the Carnforth site.

In Mr McCoy’s judgement, the site should be removed from the so that “minerals at this location are not made unrecoverable”.

The council prepared the list of potential changes, known as proposed modifications, and published them for consultation between August 12 and October 7 this year.

The consultation has now closed and all of representations received by the council have been sent to the inspector.

He will take account of these comments when writing his report about the local plan.

In due course the inspector will send the council his report with his decision on whether or not the plan has been soundly prepared. If he decides it has been, then the council can adopt the local plan incorporating his recommendations.

Once the plan has been adopted the council will use the land allocations and planning policies when deciding upon future development proposals.

The Westmorland Gazette | North Lancs