Proposals by Hurstwood to build nearly 250 houses on the Lune Industrial Estate have been dealt a blow after Lancaster City Council planning officers recommended the scheme for refusal, nearly three years after plans were submitted.
Hurstwood’s proposals are for a 25-acre plot on the industrial estate; the developer is proposing to demolish the existing buildings on the site and bring forward up to 249 homes, including a mix of two, three, and four bed houses.
Two of the larger industrial units on the site are still occupied with Howdens in one and VMC Developments in another.
Hurstwood said it had been in dialogue with the council over redeveloping the site since 2011.
The developer’s application was first submitted in March 2016 and validated in July of that year; planners originally advised this should be withdrawn, but Hurstwood decided to propose a series of amendments to address planners’ concerns.
These have included reducing the number of proposed homes from 263 down to 249.
However, a number of objections to the scheme still remain, leading planning officers to recommend it for refusal when Lancaster City Council’s planning committee meets next Monday.
Objections include from the local highways authority, which takes issue with the proposed access arrangements to New Quay Road, on the grounds of highway safety. Objections to the original application relating to site safety were previously removed following Hurstwood’s commitment to provide £540,000 towards a new bus route into the city centre.
Planners also argued the site’s status as an employment site in its Local Plan should be protected, and that the Local Plan does not “support piecemeal redevelopment of the site that concentrates only on residential development”.
“It is accepted that the industrial estate as a whole is no longer appropriate in this location in the long term but still has economic value evidenced by the number of businesses operating from the site”, added the planners’ report.
The council’s environmental team had also raised issues with noise, while the Lancaster Civic Society had argued against the demolition of a stone-built mill on the site, claiming this should be retained for a residential conversion.
There have also been 137 letters of objection from members of the public, while the area’s local MP Cat Smith has also signalled her opposition, arguing the industrial estate was “thriving” with claims that 100 jobs could be lost if the development goes ahead.
In a response to concerns put forward in 2016, Hurstwood’s planner Peter Brett Associates said the developer was “extremely disappointed” with planning officers’ comments.
“The fact of the matter is that the application proposal is the most comprehensive scheme that is ever going to come forward for this site,” said the letter.
“The remaining land is under the control of disparate freehold interests who have no obvious incentive to partner with Hurstwood or bear the cost and upheaval that would be associated with an even more comprehensive scheme that involved their own premises.
“For the council to think otherwise is, frankly, completely unrealistic and undeliverable in practice”.
Lancaster City Council’s planning committee is due to meet on 4 February.