Saturday, 13 February 2016

Homes plan sparks fears over town’s green areas

AN action group has come together to fight South Lakeland District Council’s plans to build thousands of new homes across the south of the county.

ANGER: Thornfield Road residents Peter Nightingale and Tracey Watson who overlook Trickett's field, right, where SLDC want to build 66 new houses. JON GRANGER REF: 50028874B000

As part of SLDC’s plans, 507 homes have been earmarked in and around Grange.

Resident Peter Nightingale, of Thornfield Road, Grange, arranged a meeting on Sunday to rally support for the newly-formed Grange Area Action Group.

Mr Nightingale’s house would overlook the proposed site south of Thornfield Road, but he says the campaign is about much more than nimbyism.

Mr Nightingale said: “They are trying to fit a one-size-fits-all policy on each individual town. Everyone is different.

“Whatever the local population say, it doesn’t seem to matter because SLDC think they know best.

“They seem so determined to tick all the boxes for each town, they are losing sight of what makes them individual and a place where people want to live.

“I can understand that they want to stop the population drift of youngsters to the cities, but housing won’t stop it, jobs will.

“Bringing in small-scale industrial parks won’t provide the numbers of employment needed to sustain this number of houses.

“I’m not saying I am against affordable housing, but I am against the way they want to do it by building more and more.

“I really don’t think they will be able to sell them. And it is such a beautiful area they are going to ruin.

“It is next to the playing fields and in a conservation area, but apparently that doesn’t count for anything.”

The plans would see more than 100 houses being built on the Berners’ Pool site, more than 200 south off Allithwaite Road – closing the gap between Grange and Allithwaite – and 66 new homes on the fields south of Thornfield Road.

Grange mayor, Councillor Tom Harvey, thinks although some businesses may benefit from the influx of 500 families, the town as a whole would suffer.

Cllr Harvey said: “I completely appreciate the need for towns and villages to grow, but it needs to be sustainable.

“Five hundred is far too many for a town the size of Grange.

“They are not wanted or needed by residents and I am concerned.

“We would come up against serious infrastructure problems.

“An increase in housing will bring an increase in traffic and the only road in and out of Grange is a small B road.

“We couldn’t cope unless there was some serious demolition planned. It just isn’t feasible.

“It will impact on the pedestrian experience in town too.

“For some businesses I can see that it could be beneficial, but will people want to go and spend their money on our high street with all this new traffic ruining the experience?

“They would have to fight their way through.

“I have had a lot of residents contacting me with their concerns.

“I think a lot of it is scaremongering that if these plans don’t go ahead, other developers will come in and do it somewhere else.

“We don’t need this intensive over-development in Grange.”

Cllr Harvey wrote to Councillor Peter Thornton, portfolio holder for housing and development at SLDC, and said: “I know you have made it quite clear on several occasions that you hope this massive influx of extra homes will drive down house prices by at least twenty per cent, not much comfort for those people already facing negative equity.

“And certainly not the answer to the provision of more affordable housing.

“We do need to have an LDF in place at some point , but we need an LDF that has much more emphasis on jobs and the economy, transport, and provision of public services.

“All this should come before huge numbers of houses that communities simply don't want and can't sustain.”

Residents are split over the debate.

Mother Julia Ollerton, of Grange, thinks the planned developments are great.

She said: “I’m all for it.

“I have children and there is nowhere in the area that they can afford to buy at the moment.

“It will give them a chance to get on the property ladder and on their feet.”

But Lynne Harrison-Speight, of Fernleigh Road, doesn’t think there is a need for the extra homes.

Mrs Harrison-Speight said: “There are so many properties on the market in the area already, I don’t see the need.

“Some of the houses have been on the market for a very long time.

“Grange will end up encroaching on Allithwaite and it will lose itself.

“We will just become one long town and we are going to lose so much of our green areas.”

The plans will be discussed at a special meeting of SLDC's full council tonight (18).

The meeting takes place at 6.30pm in Kendal Town Hall.


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