There is a scoping request – so it’s very early stages – on the Lancaster City Council website for an enormous holiday complex at Ellel, west of the junction 33 roundabout (reference 20/00064/EIO). Although public comments are not invited, Dynamo yielded to a madly idealistic impulse and sent off the following:
(Our comments refer only to section 3.3 (Transport) and Appendix 4 of the scoping request.)
This is potentially an enormous holiday complex, with:
- 400 lodges
- 100-125 pods
- a 100-bedroom hotel.
When fully occupied, there could be well over 1,000 people staying there, not to mention all the delivery vehicles of various sizes that will make regular service visits.
Dynamo’s opinion therefore is that the developer is taking too narrow a view of the environmental impact of this complex.
1. Despite the aim of trying to keep residents on-site (p.23), they will obviously have to travel to the complex and, once there, cannot be prevented from driving around to visit local sites. The proposed Transport Assessment (TA) will look only at impacts on the A6 and the M6, but holidaymakers will no doubt want to visit the Forest of Bowland and other local beauty spots accessible only via minor roads. The scope of the TA should be widened to include such roads and the detrimental impact on cyclists who use them for healthy leisure rides. After all, why should a holidaymaker’s leisure drive be more important a holidaymaker’s – or anyone else’s – leisure cycle ride?
2. The list of policy documents to which the TA will refer does not mention potential policy changes – in particular, Lancaster City Council’s future plans to tackle the climate emergency. The scoping request should make provision for addressing these future policies.
3. Section 2.9, Appendix 4 states that “the proposal will include measures to allow site users and the wider community to cycle around the site and provide appropriate facilities to connect to the wider network”.
The City Council should be more directive about what it wishes to see in terms of “connection to the wider network”. Is it thinking of using the canal towpath? If so, please remember that it is currently unsurfaced and will be unlit, so it is a poor utility route. Alternatively, will there be a link to Condor Green Road?
4. And finally . . . Given that this development – if it happens – will not be finished for some years and that we need to do things differently to try to minimise the impact of climate change, why not encourage the developer to be more imaginative about this holiday complex?
Could this site not be marketed as an environmentally-friendly holiday complex where you leave the car on arrival (or even leave it at home) and spend the rest of your holiday using sustainable transport? Why not make this vast site into one from which hundreds of bicycles (both pedal cycles and e-bikes) take to the roads each day to explore the local countryside and spend their money in local businesses?
There are studies about the economic benefits of low-impact tourism like cycle-touring (e.g. section 1.5 of Sustrans report https://www.sustrans.org.uk/media/4472/4472.pdf) which make a good case for this vision.
If this sounds fanciful, then please stop to consider that we need to change direction to avoid the very worst of climate change and biodiversity loss. It is even more fanciful to assume that we can continue with high-impact developments in the way that we currently do.