Details of the raft of surveys emerged at a meeting of Lancashire County Council’s cabinet which approved the route of a spine road to serve the Bailrigg Garden Village.
Members also gave the green light for the authority to use compulsory purchase powers, if necessary, to acquire the necessary land to construct that road, along with the wider South Lancaster to M6 link road scheme associated with the development – which will involve the radical redesign of junction 33 of the motorway and the relocation of two of its slip roads almost two miles north of their current location – and a park and ride facility at Hazelrigg Lane.
The overall project is designed to create the capacity to deliver almost 9,200 new homes in the area.
Cabinet member for highways Charlie Edwards told the meeting that the spine road, which is expected to include the construction of an underpass running beneath the West Coast Mainline, was a “vital part” of the scheme – and said it was “really important that we design and develop the infrastructure at the same time as the housing”.
He also revealed that there would be “detailed amounts of climate change and flood risk management [work]” carried out, the results of which would be considered “before we can even think about putting a spade in the ground”.
In addition to that, other assessments will focus on the impact of the road-building on ecology, landscape appearance, air quality, human health, soils and ecology, habitat regulation, materials and waste noise and vibration and traffic and transport. Cultural heritage and land use and accessibility will also be factored in.
County Cllr Michael Green, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said he hoped that the commitments would “give reassurance” to the significant numbers of people who had expressed concern about the plans.
The meeting heard that so-called “active travel” – such as walking and cycling – would be at the heart of the development, with County Cllr Edwards stating the new roads would not be “just for cars”.
Cabinet member for environment and climate change Shaun Turner added that canal towpaths would also be a key feature to be incorporated into the scheme, floating the idea of “a link between Lancaster and Preston and the Guild Wheel”.
Papers presented to the meeting revealed that a planning application for the new roads will ultimately be submitted to Lancashire County Council itself, as the planning authority. for approval. An initial intention to use the “development consent order” process of gaining planning permission directly from the government for nationally-significant infrastructure was no longer deemed appropriate.
Meanwhile, County Cllr Edwards said that Lancaster had changed ”beyond recognition” in the ten years since he moved to the city, branding it the “Shoreditch of Lancashire”, with an “artisan and thriving feel about it”.
“I just feel like the missing piece of the puzzle is real, genuine jobs and houses for people. So many people have to move away because they can’t afford to live where they grew up or they’re just renting.
“The concern that I have always had with any kind of big housing [development] is that you get these identikit estates that are not built with flood risk in mind.
“I want this to be something that is the preserve and the pride of generations of Lancastrians to come – and that will only happen if we make sure we get it right now,” County Cllr Edwards added.