Plans for a major new housing development in Lubbesthorpe have been approved by Blaby District Council’s Development Control Committee at their meeting on Thursday November 1.
The decision means that the planning application will now be referred to the Secretary of State, as it is a departure from the Local Plan (1999).
The development proposals are for 4,250 homes, shops, schools, community facilities, public open space, two motorway bridges (across the M1 and M69) and 21 hectares of employment land.
If the Secretary of State decides not to intervene then the permission will be granted.
During the recorded vote, 13 councillors voted in favour and four against.
The decision came as a blow to opponent groups who have been campaigning hard to halt the development, with the main objections being around issues of excessive strain on the area’s existing infrastructure and air quality.
The often tense meeting of Blaby District Council’s Development Control Committee had to be extended to over three hours due to the number of people wishing to speak. So many in fact that tickets needed to be issued, live screenings were held in two other venues, and the meeting was streamed on-line.
Councillor Jackie Dickinson spoke saying that, despite the intention of the Government’s Localism Bill being to give weight to the views of local communities and find ways to enhance and improve their areas, she felt that the resounding “No” voiced by the communities of Enderby, Leicester Forest East, Kirby Muxloe and Braunstone Town had been ignored.
Enderby resident Rob Heywood spoke saying he was deeply opposed the whole planning application saying he belived it was on the wrong sites, contained ‘largely erroneous’ supporting calculations, would cause harm to the neighbouring communities on a very big scale because of pollution, loss of agriculture.
Mr Heywood, who is a retired architect with some experience of public works, went on to say he believed the plan was “desperately over ambitious” and unlikely to be completed because schemes of such size very seldom are.
Mr Heywood said that should the Council be minded to approve the application, he would ask that a by-pass and other pieces of infrastructure be physically put in place (not just proposed or projected) before any other construction work took place. Also he expressed concern that no development should take place across land belonging to the historic Enderby Hall.
In a measured contribution to the proceedings, Mr Heywood brought his five minute time slot to a conclusuion by reminding the Council the application was in two distinct parts – Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE) and Strategic Employment Site (SES) – and they were able to make a ‘split decision’. So serious are the problems with the land use of the SES Mr Heywood strongly recommended the split decision option.
Campaigner Paul Fox, from Leicester Forest East Residents Action Group, (LFE RAG) said:
“We want houses in Leicester Forest East and around but this area just will not accommodate the amount of traffic that the new town will develop.
“We are talking about 4,250 houses, 7,000 cars, and the existing road network just cannot cope.
“The land use is 1,000 acres, which is the same size as Market Harborough.”
“Opinion is massively against this development”, he said, “Only three people of 1,371 commenting in the latest consultation were in favour of this – that’s 0.2 per cent.”
He also said it would be “highly unlikely” that the government would block the application.
The decision quickly sparked responses on the LFE RAG’s Facebook page.
A message thread began:
Bad news. Development control committee have voted 13 4 in favour of passing the development subject to the secretary of state. The cllrs on the committee who were against it and voted for it as I quote “reluctantly” should be ashamed. Spineless…
Other comments included:
“Speechless and livid.”
“That’s devastating news. The spineless ones should be named and shamed”
“Can’t believe it – those councillors who have “reluctantly” agreed to vote for this development don’t appear to be representing the local residents who are opposed to this massive development!!!”
Scott C Smith wrote saying he was “Disgusted”. He went on to comment “…the new Localism Act has supposedly given us new rights and powers for communities and individuals; reform to make the planning system more democratic and effective; reform to ensure that decisions about housing are taken locally. Clearly none of this applied to the application”
Michael Blunt, of Braunstone Lane, told the Leicester Mercury:
“It’s always the ones with the most money who get their way. Residents haven’t been listened to at all.”
His wife Pat told the paper:
“I just don’t believe it. I’m stunned. How can they (councillors) sleep at night, knowing what their decision will do to people?”
Developers: “Appreciate that change causes concern”
The developers began public consultations over the plans in 2010 and a planning application was submitted in early 2011.
The plans, which include homes for families and first-time buyers as well as bungalows for the elderly, were changed because of some concerns raised during the consultation and the application was updated in May this year.
The developers, Davidsons, Hallam Land Management and Barratt David Wilson, say that apart from the new homes, the development will feature 75 acres of new woodland and 250 acres of open space and park land. The business park could create more than 1,500 jobs. The centre of the development would include space for shops, a health centre and a community centre.
Paul Burton, speaking for the developers, called the ‘New Lubbesthorpe Promoters Group’, said:
“We appreciate that change causes concern and we have sought to ensure that this is a very high quality development.
“Almost half of the site will be green space, with woodland and hedgerows providing an attractive setting and helping to maintain the separate identities of existing communities.”
Opponents have argued that the area already has enough green space, including well-farmed and arable land, woods, footpaths and wildlife habitats.
It is now up to the Secretary of State to decide whether to hold a public inquiry.
The full committee meeting, which took place at the Council offices in Narborough, will be available to watch online from Monday November 5 at www.blaby.gov.uk/webcast
For more information on the Lubbesthorpe plan, visit http://www.blaby.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/planning-and-building/new-lubbesthorpe/