Carlisle southern bypass 'more likely' thanks to garden village
Hopes for a southern Carlisle bypass have been boosted after the Government backed ambitious plans for a new “garden village”.
Civil servants say that ministers have formally approved plans for 14 new “garden villages” at locations across the country, including one within a swathe of land south of Carlisle.
It could lead to the building of up to 10,000 new homes.
Garden village status brings with it a promise that all of the local authorities involved will share a national £6m fund to support projects, stimulating economic growth around Carlisle.
One of the key spin-offs is likely to be a boost to infrastructure – such as a new southern bypass – as well as access to technical expertise, and what ministers say will be new "planning freedoms".
Carlisle's City Council's application for garden village status focused on sites between Junction 42 of the M6 Motorway and the A595.
Garden villages have between 1,500 and 10,000 homes, and the scheme for Carlisle is expected to help balance the city's growth after a recent concentration of developments to the north of the city.
Although detailed plans are not available, Carlisle Council leader Colin Glover expressed delight at the Government's backing for the authority's vision for the city's future growth.
Meanwhile city MP John Stevenson, who lobbied ministers to support the city council garden village application, praised the council, saying the approval was a vote of confidence in the city's future.
“This is really good news for Carlisle,” said Mr Glover. “Getting approval for our application means we will now get a share of that £6m pot of money, and access to expert advice and guidance.
"It will hopefully also unlock further funding.
“The Government has also said they will look at unlocking 'blockages' in the planning process - though that does not mean bypassing regulations.
"It also makes a southern bypass more likely."
He continued: “This is really is good news: it further recognises the potential that Carlisle has to make a greater contribution to the Cumbrian and wider northern economy.”
Mr Glover said no detailed plans are yet in place but he was determined to ensure there is widespread public consultation and that any development would include an acceptable quota of affordable homes.
Improving roads access to the south of Carlisle was also a key aspect of sharing in the economic growth that is on the cards for west Cumbria, with a new nuclear power plant likely to be built near Sellafield.
Mr Stevenson said he had enthusiastically backed the city council's garden village plan – to the extent that he personally lobbied housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell late last year.
“I'm delighted with this news,” said Mr Stevenson. “It makes sense in a number of ways.
"Firstly, there's been a lot of development to the north of Carlisle, so it makes sense to try to balance that with developments in the southern part of the city.
“I also share Colin Glover's opinion that this makes the completion of a Carlisle ring road more likely. That would take traffic out of the city centre, and you'd see development happening up to that barrier.
“Finally, better infrastructure would give us better access to the west of Cumbria. This approval shows that the minister has recognised that there is good long-term potential in Carlisle. He was very positive.
“In this case, Carlisle City Council have done us proud.”
The Government said the 14 new garden villages have the potential collectively to deliver more than 48,000 new homes across England.
Mr Barwell said: “Locally-led garden towns and villages have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need.
“New communities not only deliver homes, they also bring new jobs and facilities and a big boost to local economies. These places combined could provide almost 200,000 homes.”
The new villages will be designed to be “distinct new places” with their own community facilities, rather than being extensions to existing urban areas, say Government officials.
Last year, Carlisle City Council confirmed it has set aside £450,000 over the next five years to develop roads in and around the south of Carlisle as part of its efforts to stimulate development.
The areas involved include Carleton, Durdar and Cummersdale. They could be transformed with up to 10,000 new homes, schools and businesses.