The health-focused new town due to be built on the outskirts of Blackpool could end up offering more housing than is currently on the drawing board.
The Whyndyke Garden Village development – which sits predominantly in Fylde, close to junction four of the M55 motorway – is provisionally expected to create 1,450 new properties across three quarters of the 225-acre site.
The remaining land is earmarked for employment space – but the growth of the nearby Enterprise Zone at Blackpool Airport might mean not all of it is needed, a meeting of Lancashire County Council’s health scrutiny committee heard.
Allan Oldfield, chair of the Whyndyke Garden Village Partnership Board, said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the housing figure increased in future instead.
The meeting also heard that efforts will be made to ensure the so-called ‘healthy new town’ – one of ten being piloted across the country – forms a cohesive community from the moment the first residents move in.
The development will be completed in phases over a period of up to 15 years, but Allan Oldfield hopes that at least some of the infrastructure which is integral to the garden village design can be made available as early as possible. The partnership board has already agreed that developers must provide a primary school, health centre, community facility and bus service – but between 100 and 300 properties are permitted to be occupied before the services have to be completed.
“We’d like to look at accessing grants to try and get at least the community centre built before it ordinarily would be,” Mr. Oldfield said.
“[There is a risk that] people sign up for services [delivered] away from the site, because the community infrastructure only comes later on.
“The board will enter into negotiations with the developer to get infrastructure in sooner than we would [usually]. But I can’t guarantee it will be built any quicker than it normally is.”
The development may also replicate an idea adopted by one of the other garden village sites of creating a community support worker to encourage on-line and real-world connections between new neighbours.
Whyndyke will be based on ten ‘principles of healthy living’, including reducing health inequalities by making the area sustainable, creating interesting public open spaces which encourage community participation and offering sources of fresh local food via initiatives like community gardens.
The dwellings will also be designed as ‘homes for lifelong living’ – meaning that they are able to be adapted to meet the needs of their occupants at different stages of their lives. That includes an attempt to future-proof the homes so that residents can make use of technology to help them maintain their independence as and when they need it.
“We’ve come up with a plan for the digital plumbing of a home to look at what is needed now and what might be needed in the future,” Andrea Smith, Lancashire County Council’s health equality officer said.
“We [will] have the capability to run [digital] services effectively over all the rooms in the house.”
The health scrutiny committee is to recommend County Hall contacts Lancashire’s 12 district councils, which have responsibility for planning, to request that they all adopt the healthy and lifelong living principles when drawing up planning conditions for developments right across the county.
The committee was told that five developers have submitted “strong expressions of interest” in constructing the Whyndyke Garden Village. At least one of the firms is thought to be interested in developing the whole site, rather than sub-dividing it with other constructors.