900 homes vision for Garstang

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AROUND 900 new homes could be built in Garstang and Catterall over the next decade-and-a-half, according to confidential documents being discussed by Wyre Council.

And – even more controversially – many of them could be built to the west of the A6, between Garstang and Nateby.

The A6 has long been considered the boundary of development to the west of Garstang, but one idea floated in one of the leaked draft planning policy documents suggests "the restructuring of the town boundaries" to allow house building west of the busy main road, along with a new industrial estate/business park there.

No precise locations have been given, but the section of the A6 in the area under debate stretches from Cabus, eastern Nateby (where some housing has been allowed off Nateby Crossing Lane), to Kirkland (home of Dewlay), Churchtown and Catterall (site of the Franklaw water works).

The documents admit: "This approach would entail a substantial programme of development and a major extension to the settlement boundary.

"Although the approach would represent an opportunity to tackle local housing need, it would also allow local minimum housing requirements to be exceeded."

There is a worry, though, that "the historic town centre of Garstang would become further separated from the traditional tourist and visitor area of the High Street and employment allocations would be divided between Garstang and Catterall."

Other ideas being debated are the development and expansion of Garstang town centre and a park and ride base somewhere on the outskirts of Garstang.

The ideas looking at how Garstang, Catterall and surrounding villages may look by 2027 are contained in draft 'local development framework' documents for Wyre's various communities, some of which have been seen by The Courier. A section looking at Garstang town centre reports issues with traffic circulation, problems for cyclists and difficulties for public transport.

It cites the much-maligned Broadway Malyan plan (which Garstang Town Council wants Wyre to ignore) as pointing out that coach companies avoid Garstang as "there is no adequate coach parking."

The reports suggest a 'transport action plan' to improve Garstang centre's traffic circulation and provide better opportunities to boost the 'visitor economy.'

Other documents being considered look at the future of the countryside and villages east of Garstang, including Scorton and Calder Vale, where "a limited number" of new homes will be allowed "for people in identified housing need."

Another document suggests the housing needs of Claughton-on-Brock "should be met in Catterall."

On the economy it has been suggested that 16 hectares of land be set aside for new employment land, mainly in Catterall, which would strengthen Catterall as "an employment hub."

Existing employment sites at Green Lane West in Garstang, Catterall Gates Lane in Catterall, and Brockholes Way at Claughton will be protected and dedicated for business and industrial use.

On more general themes, in their hopes for what Wyre will look like by 2027 the report hopes to see the Fairtrade movement - pioneered in Garstang - being embraced by all producers in the borough.

The documents also urge that the council meets the "locally identified accommodation needs of gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople in Wyre." During the recent planning application for a Travellers site at Preesall, opponents argued there was currently no valid need for such a site.

A Wyre Council spokesperson confirmed the documents obtained by The Courier were not in the public domain and were "likely to go through many revisions" before going out to public consultation.

She confirmed that the documents were being discussed by a 'planning policy' group whose meetings and reports are not open to the public.

She added: "First drafts are being worked through in conjunction with several councillors who meet about once a fortnight as a Planning Policy Group to discuss and make various changes to these first drafts.

"Together these area strategies will reflect the development strategy for the borough up to 2027 and at present in respect of housing and employment land we are looking at accommodating the requirements set out in the now revoked Regional Spatial Strategy.

"The 900 houses figure is not fixed. It is a 'starter for ten', intended as a subject for debate and possible revision by the Planning Policy Group prior to public consultation, likewise the figure for employment land. The document currently carries no weight in decision making.

"Further draft area strategies will eventually be combined into a preferred options document which will then be subject to full and widespread public consultation in spring next year."