A planning application by Gladman Developments for 220 houses on land north of Hospital Lane in Blaby has been refused by the Planning Inspectorate.
The proposed development, on land owned by Leicestershire County Council, has been the only application that has sought to bypass Blaby District Council and apply directly to the Planning Inspectorate, following the Government’s decision to place the Council in ‘special measures’ last year.
James Carpenter, Development Services Manager at Blaby District Council, said:
“The reason that the District Council was put in ‘special measures’ was because it took the approach of working with applicants and our local communities when determining planning applications without regard to a retrospectively imposed government deadline of 13 weeks.
Government appear to disagree that we should spend time making sure developments are the best they can be, and would seemingly prefer we just churned out decisions.”
Under the government’s policy, local planning authorities which determine 30% or fewer of the major planning applications that come before them within the statutory period, or have more than 20% of their decisions overturned at appeal can be designated as under-performing.
Developers can then choose to submit major planning applications directly to the Planning Inspectorate for determination instead of the Council.
Blaby District Council was put in ‘special measures’ for the time it was taking to determine major planning applications.
The Hospital Lane application was submitted directly to the Planning Inspectorate on 23 April 2014.
A public hearing took place at Leicester Racecourse on 17 June 2014, in which the developers and Blaby District Council gave their representations to the Planning Inspectorate.
The Council spoke publically as to why it thought the application should be refused.
James Carpenter said:
“The proposed site was not a non-descript field on the edge of a settlement, but one of the most valued landscapes in the district, with a recreational value second to none.
It would have destroyed the public experience of the Long Walk and Bouskell Park and would have shattered its tranquil nature and setting. This was the wrong development in totally the wrong location.
Leicestershire County Council has repeatedly failed to understand the value of this site in the community and the fact that it is so very clearly unsuitable in planning terms for development.
Despite this it continued to pursue the development of the site, so we are delighted that the Planning Inspectorate has so firmly agreed with the case that we put forward at the hearing and has refused this application.
The County Council was trying to get consent for a development that doesn’t fit within the remit of our Core Strategy.
It is right and proper that the local community who approved our Core Strategy be allowed to see it implemented.”
Campaign Group “Action Against Development On Hospital Lane” said it was “time to crack open the champagne” and issued a message on their website:
The Inspector has made his decision…the application for a housing development on Hospital Lane has been REFUSED! We are all so pleased at this triumph for local democracy.
The team at Land For Life would like to thank you sincerely for all your support and for making your voice heard when it mattered most. It has been a long haul (nearly 5 years) but we hope that Leicestershire County Council will now listen to the people of Blaby and abandon their plans to develop this much loved green space.
You can read the detail of the Inspector’s decision here