Purpose of Report
To provide the Executive with feedback on the final element of the development public consultation on the Western Growth Corridor Masterplan and further transport and flood mitigation work and to seek approval to submit the outline planning application for the Western Growth Corridor, based on the proposed Masterplan, with detailed applications for two of the three access junctions into the development.
(1) That the feedback from the public consultation be received and support be given to the ongoing work to secure external funding to enable the spine road through the development connecting Skellingthorpe Road with a road bridge over the railway onto Tritton Road as early as possible, subject to planning consent being obtained.
(2) That the submission of the Western Growth Corridor outline planning application with the two detailed applications for the access junctions at Skellingthorpe Road and Birchwood Avenue and Tritton Road be approved, with the final sign-off on the content of the planning submission being delegated to the Strategic Director of Major Development.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Reason for Decision
This report on the planning application submission in respect of the Western Growth Corridor was the final of three reports on the proposed development, further to minute numbers 123 and 124 above.
The Western Growth Corridor was one of four sustainable urban extensions around Lincoln identified and promoted in the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan for development to meet the area’s growth projections up to 2036.
The City Council was a significant landowner, owning approximately 60% of the site included within the proposed Masterplan area, and had been leading on bringing forward development of the area in a viable, sustainable and deliverable way since 2016. The Western Growth Corridor was a key priority within the City Council’s Vision 2020, delivered across all of the Council’s priorities and objectives and was the single largest development area within the city boundary.
A number of documents, as follows, needed to be agreed in order to progress the Western Growth Corridor to the next phase which would steer and shape delivery of the scheme in terms of financials, timescales and objectives:
· Landowner Delivery Agreement, inclusive of:
- the Scheme Viability Assessment;
- the Grants Strategy;
- the Procurement Strategy;
- the Design Code;
- the Infrastructure Phasing Plan;
- the Housing Delivery Phasing Plan.
· the Scheme Viability Assessment from the Council;
· Phase 1a Costs and Delivery.
The Delivery Agreement was the single key overarching legal document between the Council and Lindum Western Growth Community Ltd, as the other main landholder associated with the scheme, which would underpin delivery of the overall Western Growth Corridor scheme and included the elements highlighted at paragraph 3.3 of the report. The Delivery Agreement had been negotiated with Lindum Western Growth Community Ltd on the basis of the key principles agreed by the Executive on 24 September 2018 which had all been met. These were outlined in paragraph 3.4 of the report.
The Scheme Viability Assessment had been prepared by an external expert development cost consultant. Various versions of this had been developed as the Masterplan for the Western Growth Corridor had evolved to ensure that the scheme could proceed to planning and to act as a basis for the commercial terms within the landowner delivery agreement from the perspective of deliverability and commercial viability. Scheme viability was very complex at this stage and depended upon a range of assumptions and variables ranging from building costs to sales values, rates of sales and timing of infrastructure and Section 106 Agreements. Viability also varied depending upon whether the landowner sold un-serviced land, serviced land and developed parts or all of the land themselves as either residential or commercial. However, the Council’s assessment showed that as long as the Council delivered a significant proportion of the development itself or in a form of a joint venture then the scheme was viable to proceed.
A final round of developer led public consultation, primarily providing feedback on the additional transport and flood work commissioned following the 2017 public consultation feedback was open from 1 February 2019 to 18 February 2019. Six consultation events were held between 5 February 2019 and 9 February 2019 at a range of locations in the neighbouring communities. The consultation and associated events were publicised in Your Lincoln, a leaflet was distributed to around 16,000 individual households within those neighbouring communities, along with a range of local and social media supported by local councillors also publicising the consultation. Over 400 people attended the events with 48 completed questionnaires submitted which reflected the individual comments made at the consultation events. The questionnaire was based on the most frequently asked questions from the 2017 consultation, which the events themselves were then aimed at addressing. The analysis of the questionnaire responses sought to capture whether the further work undertaken and the information provided in February had helped to address those questions. The results of this exercise were set out in paragraph 4.5 of the report.
Attendees at the consultation event expressed their concerns about the current experience of congestion on Skellingthorpe Road in particular, both onto the A46 and onto Tritton Road as a result of the railway crossing impact and junction design. The overwhelming request was a main spine road that would link Skellingthorpe Road with a bridge over the railway onto Tritton Road, therefore avoiding the level crossing impact, to be put in as soon as possible. From the majority of attendees it was noted that there appeared to be an understanding that:
· congestion in the area would get worse without the development;
· the solutions proposed by the development itself would provide relief to the current issues;
· economically it would not be possible to put the link in from the start.
The February 2019 consultation itself had not led to any proposed changes to the revised Masterplan that had merged following the previous 2017 consultation, attached to the report at Appendix A. The outline planning application for the overall development was shown in the Masterplan at a high level and had been developed on the basis of a wide range of surveys, investigations and analysis that complied with all the planning guidance and policy requirements along with the feedback from public consultation and statutory consultees. Further analysis and work had been undertaken by a second transport consultant to provide an additional technical appraisal of the transport information in relation to both sustainable forms of transport and vehicle movement.
The detailed design for two of the three access points for the proposed new roundabout at Skellingthorpe Road and Birchwood Avenue and the access onto Tritton Road, with a bridge over the railway into the development, had also been prepared to accompany the outline application for detailed consent. These two access points had been designed to enable them to then be developed further for costing, procurement and delivery as part of the first phase of the development.
The outline planning application also proposed four main phases of development delivery, split into further sub-phases, as outlined in the table at paragraph 5.5 of the report with revised target timescales outlined in paragraph 6, including those aspects which were subject to planning consent.
Councillor Fay Smith welcomed the additional consultation that had been carried out, contrary to a perception that the Council had not consulted with residents regarding this proposed development. She recognised that people wanted to see the link introduced at Skellingthorpe Road with a bridge over the railway onto Tritton Road from the start if not as soon as possible, but appreciated that it was simply unaffordable to do this at such an early stage of the scheme.
Councillor Donald Nannestad reflected on the shortage of affordable housing in the city and was pleased to see that this development sought to deliver 640 additional affordable units. He hoped a lot of these would be social housing. Councillor Nannestad was also pleased to see the inclusion of a leisure village as part of the proposals in order to enhance the health and wellbeing offer in the city. He felt that the site was well placed to accommodate this and that the proposal represented a really good opportunity to enhance provision in Lincoln alongside other improvements that had recently been made.
Councillor Ric Metcalfe, Leader of the Council, thanked the team associated with this report and the previous two items relating to the Western Growth Corridor for the hard work, skill and dedication that had gone into it.