Grab Lane - proposed site of a new development of 167 homes
Grab Lane - proposed site of a new development of 167 homes

I’ve had a significant number of constituents contact me about their concerns over plans to build 167 new homes on farmland near Lancaster Leisure Park – concerns that I too share.

The site on Grab Lane is in flood zones 2 and 3. According to the Environment Agency this means:

  • Flood Zone 2 –  land assessed as having between a 1 in 100 and 1 in 1,000 annual probability of river flooding (1% – 0.1%), or between a 1 in 200 and 1 in 1,000 annual probability of sea flooding (0.5% – 0.1%) in any year
  • Flood Zone 3 – land assessed as having a 1 in 100 or greater annual probability of river flooding (>1%), or a 1 in 200 or greater annual probability of flooding from the sea (>0.5%) in any year.

Having had some devastating flooding events over the last few years and as a member of South Lancaster Flood Action Group I think our city planners need to proceed very cautiously.

Other concerns raised with me are to do with the increase in traffic, air quality, pollution, health and well-being and the lack of infrastructure such as schools, medical services, shops etc.

I will continue to work alongside Cllr Erica Lewis to oppose this development, and encourage others to voice their objection, and I will continue working with Erica and the flood groups to secure the action we need on flooding across the district.

On a wider point, the Government’s proposed reforms of the planning system are a Developer’s Charter that will remove powers from elected local representatives and hand them to Whitehall-appointed boards of developers while doing nothing to solve the growing affordable housing crisis our country faces.

These changes will lead to local people no longer having the ability to formally object to inappropriate developments in their own street or neighbourhood with participation limited to consultation on the area’s local plan every few years.

Labour believes that changes to Permitted Development, pushed through by Ministers before the Summer Recess will result in a new swathe of poor-quality housing in our towns and cities with empty shops turned into housing rather than bought back into use.

These changes are controversial and should be debated in the House of Commons. Labour has tabled Early Day Motions objecting to these changes and has written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government asking for a debate and vote on these changes.

The Conservatives have received £11 million in donations from property developers since Boris Johnson came to power.

Their latest proposals show the increasing influence property developers have on Government policy and the Developers’ Charter looks like payback for this.

The Conservatives want to remove the voice of local people over planning applications. Labour opposes this attempt to prevent local people from formally objecting to inappropriate developments in their neighbourhood. Labour wants to see local people and their elected representatives given a bigger say over the development of their neighbourhoods, not less.

Changes to permitted development will allow neighbours to build towering extensions that overlook people’s homes and gardens, block out light, invade privacy, and affect the look of the neighbourhood with no say for others living locally.

The proposals fundamentally misdiagnose the reason that too few homes are being built with no measures to force developers to use unimplemented planning permissions – there are almost a million new homes that already have planning approval that have not been built.

Labour opposes the increase in threshold at which developers start to make contributions to local infrastructure and to build affordable housing because it means less tax and higher profits for wealthy developers and less income for hard-pressed communities. We remain concerned that the Government is removing existing funding streams for affordable housing
with no clear plan for what will replace it.

Ten years of Tory rule has ripped up the rules on affordable housing. Tory schemes such as New Starter Homes end up with no homes built. People who want to own their own home struggle to afford it. People in private rented accommodation often pay extortionate rents and for often poor quality or unsafe accommodation. These proposals will do nothing to create the truly affordable housing our communities so desperately need.

Ministers continue to push their proposed ‘First Homes’ scheme. Labour wants to make it easier for people to own their first home but with this scheme the government proposes to use developer contributions to fund this initiative meaning the pot for social housing will be even more depleted.



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