Giant 353-home estate plan revealed ... but can our roads cope?

A new 353-home neighbourhood on the border of Blackpool and St Annes is set to be built over the next decade, it has been revealed.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 19th February 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 19th February 2016, 7:20 am
New homes are to be built on the old Pontins site on Clifton Drive North
New homes are to be built on the old Pontins site on Clifton Drive North

Two, three, and four-bedroomed homes are set to be built on a barren 10-hectare patch of land that once welcomed thousands of tourists every year when it was a Pontin’s holiday camp, plans lodged with Fylde Council show.

Some 595 car parking spaces are planned, while 30 per cent of the homes will be affordable in the second phase of the Coastal Dunes project, developer Persimmon said.

At least £100,000 will be put into redeveloping St Annes town centre, while the firm will also give money towards school places, Fylde Council said.

But concern has been raised about the impact almost 600 vehicles would have on the busy Clifton Drive North, the main link between the two towns.

In the last six years, 34 people have been injured in crashes at the junction of Clifton Drive North and Squires Gate Lane, the Squires Gate Lane and Lytham Road junction, and Squires Gate Lane and Amy Johnson Way.

Four of them were serious.

St Annes councillor Karen Henshaw said: “The speed limit definitely needs to come down to 30mph.

“That will need to be changed because Clifton Drive now is very busy.

“Are the schools going to cope? Are the medical facilities going to cope? The two schools in St Annes are pretty full already.

“We have roads collapsing all the time because the drainage is old. The local infrastructure can’t cope with all the extra houses, even though they tell us we need them.”

Persimmon Homes Lancashire managing director Mark Cook said: “A thorough traffic survey has been conducted prior to the submission of our application and we believe that the location is particularly well served by public transport, being almost adjacent to Squires Gate railway station and Starr Gate tram station and with bus stops along Clifton North Drive.”

The building work will form part of Persimmon’s Coastal Dunes scheme, which is split into two phases.

In 2008, the site’s then-owner Northern Trust applied for outline planning permission for two separate parcels of land, one smaller one to the south of Clifton Drive North and one to the north.

Permission was granted and the land was sold to Persimmon, which has already started building 73 homes on the smaller, more southerly parcel.

Green open space will act as a barrier between the two sites where there is a ‘no build zone’ because of the flightpath for nearby Blackpool Airport, paperwork revealed.

Local residents and businesses, and other interested parties ,such as the county council, have now been asked for their views.

Officers in the highways department at County Hall will look over Persimmon’s traffic assessment, a 286-page document that details any impact the proposed development will have.

Persimmon wants to incorporate a simple priority junction for the site in Clifton Drive North, which goes from a 30mph limit to 40mph past the site, it is understood, but officers could ask for traffic lights to be installed.

The lengthy assessment found ‘the local network can accommodate the traffic flows, with no adverse impact with little or no queuing occurring as a result of the development.’

Despite these assurances, Clifton Drive North becomes extremely busy at peak times, such as The Illuminations, while any closure of Queensway – the only other arterial road between Blackpool and St Annes – has caused major tailbacks on Clifton Drive North.

One resident, from Lindsay Court, a series of retirement flats in New Road that overlook the development site, said: “I like it how it is to tell you the truth.

“I don’t even have to shut the curtains on a night.

“And the traffic will be bad. It’s already bad, especially at rush hour.”

Kevin Burgess, whose home also overlooks the site, which has large piles of rubbish round the edges to deter travellers, said he believed his flat will increase in value as a result of the development.

The 70-year-old, who has lived in Lindsay Court for 11 years, said: “The traffic keeps moving, even during rush hour.

“It’s not bad.

“There’s supposed to be a big refurbishment [at the flats] so with that and the new houses going up, I think it will increase prices.

“Anything will look better than the old Pontin’s building and the heap of rubble we have had to look at for four or five years.”

However, Mr Burgess said he feared two new roads proposed to head into the development from New Road will mean it may be used as a rat run.

WYG Transport, which put together the travel plan, said in papers: “It has been shown the development can be accessed in a safe manner and the impact of the scheme on nearby junctions is considered as negligible residual cumulative impact.

“It is therefore concluded that there is no material highways or traffic reason why planning permission should not be granted.”

Bus stops will be built in Clifton Drive North and Squires Gate Lane, while footpaths will link the neighbourhood to Squires Gate railway station.

Tory councillor for Squires Gate Christian Cox said: “It’s an unusual place to build houses, down by the sand dunes.

“It was always earmarked for airport expansion in the past, so it was a bit of a shock when it was announced it was going to be houses.

“Six hundred cars will be an increase in traffic on an already busy road, and 350 homes is quite a big estate, so I would have thought traffic lights would have been more appropriate.

“The experts know what they’re doing but it’s a bit of a surprise [to only see a priority junction in the plans].”

Blackpool Council’s Labour councillor for Squires Gate Alistair Humphreys added: “My belief is the adverse effect could be minimal but if there are residents that are worried or concerned in any way, they can contact me because I’m more than happy to hear their views and support their views.”

The planned green open space will help wildlife to flourish, while bird and bat boxes would also be installed, documents showed.

Mr Cook added: “Our proposals will see the transformation of the former Pontin’s site into a thriving new community of 353 much-needed homes, with properties ranging from two bedroom bungalows and apartments to four bedroom family houses.

“We view this as a superb opportunity to redevelop a derelict site as well as significantly enhancing and preserving its ecology.”