Dynamo attended a stakeholder engagement workshop (ooh, we get around!) at the end of February at Lancaster Town Hall. This was organised by consultants Planit-IE; around 60 people were present from local organisations and the City and County Councils. The workshop included a rather eye-opening walk around the proposal Canal Quarter (i.e. Nelson Street to Moor Lane and the expanse of car parks around Alfred Street). It definitely has possibilities.
Dynamo has written a follow-up to the consultants to try to get cycle plans embedded from the start:
Firstly, it would be good to have east-west and north-south cycle routes across the site. There is so much residential expansion of Lancaster in the Local Plan that routes into and out of the city centre to cope with extra travel need to be included in the Quarter plans – rather than completely ignored or added on later, as too often happens. Such cycle routes would bring in cyclists from the north/south (via the canal towpath) and west (via Phoenix Street and the Millennium Bridge). It’s only by providing decent cycle and walking infrastructure (plus public transport) that you can discourage people from using their cars in an expanding city.
Secondly, such cycle routes should be permanently cycleable – i.e. not as in the pedestrian centre, where (understandably) you have to dismount between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. – so they need to be separate from the more “leisurely strolling” areas of the Quarter.
Thirdly, cycle parking. At present Lancaster City Council is consulting on air quality; one of Dynamo’s suggestions is to increase provision – i.e. charging points and secure cycle parking – for electric bikes. Could this be included somewhere in the plan? Perhaps encourage a business that incorporates a safe storage area for cyclists who don’t want to leave £1,000+ worth of bike locked to a bike rack?
There will be further opportunities for engagement with Canal Quarter plans, and Dynamo will be there.
This is the reply we received from the Senior Regeneration Officer at Lancaster City Council:
I’m pleased you felt the event was worthwhile. The consultants got some good information out of the day and, as you note, it will be the first of many opportunities to engage in the development of proposals and we’ll ensure you’re aware of any open events and the next stakeholder event so you can review emerging proposals.
In terms of your specific points, we’ll send this directly to the consultants engaged in preparing the strategic framework. In addition to approaching the issue directly through the Canal Quarter process you may be aware the council’s Planning and Housing Policy Team have been separately preparing a Planning Advisory Note that will support the emerging Local Plan and inform development proposals as they come forward through the Development Management process. While the focus of the paper is on the 3 strategic housing sites identified in the emerging Land Allocations DPD, given its importance as a trip attractor the Advisory Note, also considers Lancaster City Centre. It’s important that the Canal quarter approach to cycle provision does not sit in isolation and we’re fully aware of the need to consider the Canal Quarter in the context of the emerging district wide Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) being brought forward by the County Council, and other cycling and walking infrastructure proposals (e.g. Cycle Superhighway to Lancaster South/Bailrigg Garden Village and Heysham Gateway connectivity).
North-south routes are very much in all our policy thoughts and it will be interesting to see how the practical approach is developed. Similarly it will be interesting to see how modal separation is accommodated through strategic to detailed design. There are ideas emerging around cycle hubs and dedicated storage. Whether the Canal Quarter is the best location – as opposed to other transport nodes and trip attractors – is probably something that needs to be reviewed both outside and alongside the Canal quarter process. What will be important though is for any defined development use on the Canal Quarter site to have provision for secure cycle storage and charging points for electric bikes.