Lutterworth East - the plan...
The information produced within this document is taken directly from the Leicestershire County Council Environmental Impact Assessment - Scoping Report, published in June 2018, and relating to the East of Lutterworth Strategic Development Area, or “Lutterworth East” as we know it locally.
The purpose of this document is to summarise the proposal, hopefully in language that we all understand. In addition, I have added my own comment on each point - these are my views for the reasons that I state - it is up to you to form your own viewpoint for your own reasons. In addition, I have added the local map produced by the developers so that we can see exactly what is proposed and where.
First, let’s look at the map.
The development is expected to take 15 years to complete.
We’ll now look at what the scoping report has to say.
About 2,750 houses, of which about 1,500 will meet the additional housing requirements during the construction period, and the remaining 1,250 will be aimed at meeting the requirements that will occur after the year 2031. The plan provides for a mix of house types, including serviced plots for self-build and custom homes. There will be a range of housing densities, with higher densities (and therefore cheaper homes) located near the proposed local centre and along the spine road, and lower densities (and therefore more expensive housing) on the rural boundaries towards the north, east and south.
My Comments - form your own view!
It must be remembered that the housing requirements that this project attempts to satisfy are actually being driven by this proposal, as another part of the plan which we will look at shortly brings in warehousing, industry and offices which in theory generate jobs, and therefore a demand for housing. Without one, you don't need the other!
On the basis of one car per household, this will ultimately mean an additional 2,750 cars in the area, which will inevitably travel in to Lutterworth on occasions. If we assume that 10% come in to the town on a Saturday, this would mean an additional 270 searching for parking spaces.
On the basis of an average of 4 people per household, the population of Lutterworth would increase by 11,000 over the course of the development, more than doubling the current population of 10,000. To put this increase in to perspective, between 2001 and 2011, the population of Lutterworth went up by approximately 900.
The housing will include affordable and specialist housing. There is no denying that the country needs this, however there is no clear statement within the plan detailing how much of the housing fits in to this category. I am not aware of how much affordable housing was built within the last two developments at the end of Bill Crane Way.
Business and Employment:
The Scoping Report states that there will be 13 hectares of land for storage and distribution next to Junction 20, and 10 hectares for office and industrial units adjacent to the new spine road. It also states that the additional employment brought by these developments would be in the region of 2,500 jobs.
My Comments - form your own view!
Here we have a discrepancy between the Scoping Report and the presentation that was made to the people of Lutterworth, and which was displayed in the library. The problem is in the use of the words “hectares” and “acres” to describe the area covered. Roughly, 1 hectare equals 2.5 acres.
The presentation in the library, and therefore the presentation that was made in the Wycliffe Rooms on 21st and 22nd September, states that there will be 13 acres of land for storage and distribution next to Junction 20, and 10 acres for office and industrial units adjacent to the new spine road.
In the scoping report, the same numbers are used, however they refer to hectares, not acres. Therefore, the Scoping Report actually suggests 32.5 acres of storage and distribution, and 25 acres of office and industrial units.
The extension of Magna Park was rejected at planning phase, although it is subject to appeal.
If the Magna Park extension is not regarded as necessary by the planners, we have to question why we are having an alternative plan for more warehousing put forward in a location that is considerably closer to the Town Centre than Magna Park. Surely it is better to have all warehousing in one place?
Assuming that the Magna Park extension succeeds at appeal, why will we need further warehousing as part of the Lutterworth East Plan? The Magna Park extension will bring a further 4.5 million square feet of warehousing.
Magna Park, currently, has empty warehouses, which suggests that more warehouses are not needed. If it is desirable to have small industrial and office space provided, why can’t existing sites at Magna Park be developed, rather than building them on green belt land?
In addition to Magna Park:
Currently, there is a brand new, yet empty, 129,000 sq ft warehouse at M1 Access right next to the M1 junction.
Land opposite Magna Park, known as Glebe Farm, received outline planning approval for B8 Logistics / Storage use on 5th July, 2018. This will bring a further 3 million square feet of warehousing (planning reference 15/00865/OUT
Magna Park itself will grow by a factor of 50% once the current plans are completed and built - it currently provides 8 million square feet of warehousing - this will increase to 12 million square feet.
Below Glebe Farm, planning reference 16/01288/OUT will bring a further 108,000 square feet of office and light industrial development
Lutterworth currently enjoys almost 100% employment
Working on the basis that a family would move here because of the employment potential, you have to conclude that it would be the new warehouses etc that would bring families to the area
In order for this to happen, companies would need to occupy the warehouses, yet there are local facilities standing empty because of lack of demand, and many more in the planning / building pipeline
If there is no demand for the warehouses, there is an argument that the 2,500 promised jobs are not really there.
If you further assume that, on average, 1 person per new household worked at the new sites, there would be 2,500 families that would not move here.
Therefore, we would need 2,500 fewer houses - the plan provides for the provision of 2,750 houses
Reference to the Harborough Local Plan, published in September 2017, Section 15.2.11, reveals the following. In talking about the land on which the proposed warehouses next to Junction 20 of the M1 would stand it says: "Although the HEDNA (Housing and Economic Development Needs Assessment) 2017 does not identify a need for this quantity of non-strategic B8 uses, and this site does constitute best and most versatile agricultural land (Grade 2 of the Agricultural Land Classification), the HEDNA 2017 figures are not maxima and the development will provide the cash flow needed to fund the road junctions to serve the SDA. This is considered sufficient to justify its allocation."
In other words, it can't be justified on its own merits, but it generates cash for the developers.
One is drawn to the conclusion that this plan is not about providing for a local need, it is more about generating revenue for Leicestershire County Council based on the receipt of Business Rates and Council Tax.
I am told that NONE of this money has been promised to Lutterworth.
Effectively, the inclusion of warehousing and industrial / office space within the Lutterworth East Development is unnecessary.
The plan provides for two Primary Schools, to be developed as the housing project progresses, with at least one school available soon after the completion of 300 houses. Further, it states that there will be appropriate contributions towards secondary education provision if necessary. The plan also provides for a neighbourhood centre as a social and retail hub after the completion of 700 houses. This will include:
a supermarket / shops
a pub or café
a doctor’s surgery
a community hall
a new Leisure Centre
My Comments - form your own view!
If each of the first 300 houses has on average one primary school age child, that means 300 extra children requiring schooling before the new school has been built.
I'm not sure whether Sherrier and Wycliffe schools have the capacity to absorb another 300 children between them.
The longer term concern would be around the number of primary school age children that would come in to the area as a result of the development. With 2,750 additional houses, even the cautious assumption that every other house has a child of this age would mean an additional 1,375 primary age children.
The next consideration regards Secondary Education. The additional 1,375 primary children would obviously move up to Secondary Schools, along with any child moving in to the area that is already of that age. This would create an immediate potential demand for additional Secondary places (ie as part of the first 300 house program), then a medium term further increase in that demand as a result of building the remaining 2,450 houses, and then a longer term demand as a result of Primary children moving up.The “appropriate contributions” regarding secondary education are non-specific, and ignore the fact that the issue could easily arise right at the beginning of the housing development. There could be, quite simply, far too many children for the current or proposed schooling facilities to cater for.This is a fundamental flaw within the provisions of the plan
Regarding the neighbourhood centre as a social and retail hub, to be developed once 700 houses have been built
What happens before 700 houses have been built? At an average of 4 people per household, and an average of 1 car per household:
Up to 700 additional cars potentially going in and out of Lutterworth
Would Morrisons and Waitrose car parks cope? Morrisons is virtually permanently full now (thanks to the parking charges that we have had imposed upon us)
Just under 3,000 additional people dependant on the current facilities in Lutterworth – this is over 30% more than Lutterworth currently supports
Would Lutterworth cope during the formative stages of the development?
The timing of the proposed new Leisure Centre is not referred to in the report, and unfortunately the current Leisure Centre would be demolished. Current Lutterworth residents would therefore have to travel to the new development, realistically generating more traffic. The demolition of the current facility would, apparently, be because
It’s too small, although there is a disused car park at the back that could allow for expansion
It won’t last for another 20 years, which is disappointing considering that it isn't that old
They need the land to extend Lutterworth College in order to provide more schooling for the new houses - refer to my comments regarding schooling...
Highways and Transportation
This is the area where we would see the first physical impact within Lutterworth itself, as this is where there will be a large amount of road development. I am told that the Town Council originally agreed to support the proposal as they were promised that a "by-pass" would be built, meaning that traffic in Lutterworth would reduce. This “by-pass” has now dissolved into a “spine road”, which in theory would increase the amount of traffic in Lutterworth.
The report refers to road numbers – the A4304, and the A426
A4304 is the road going from Junction 20 of the M1 out towards Market Harborough
A426 is the main road going through the centre of Lutterworth
So, what is the plan?
The new development will be serviced by roads that will be built from new junctions on
the A4304, just the other side of the motorway junction. This will be the only access to the development from the Misterton side of the M1. There will be a second junction built slightly further up the road to Market Harborough in order to service the additional warehouses that we discussed earlier.
The A426 (the main road through Lutterworth). This junction will be built approx. 100 yards beyond the point that Bill Crane Way joins the Leicester Road (A426), ie 100 yards beyond the two new housing developments that have recently been completed. However, just building a junction here doesn’t connect us to anything. In order for the connection to be made, a new road will then be built from this junction, through the fields behind the new development on the east side of the A426, across the motorway on a new motorway bridge, through fields on the far side of the motorway (and through an area where they propose to build the industrial / office facilities), and will connect with the current Gilmorton Road at the point of the big right-hand bend just after the existing motorway bridge. This will then become a major junction connecting
a new road that will run throughout the new development, and which in turn will connect with the road leading from the major new junction to the A4304.
a new road that will lead up to the new junction on the A4304
the existing road from that point to Lutterworth
the current road from that point to Gilmorton
the new road from the A426
My Comments - form your own view!
Therefore, the new development will have two access points – the Leicester Road just past Bill Crane Way, and the road to Market Harborough just the other side of the motorway.
In terms of timing, there will be 1,250 new houses built (this is virtually half of the proposed development) before this road network is complete, meaning that all additional traffic relating to the development up to that point will use existing roads.
Gilmorton Road will be closed to all traffic other than public transport, cyclists, pedestrians etc once the spine road is complete.
We should consider how traffic from the A5 / Magna Park would get to the new development.
The logical route, if accessing from this side of the motorway, would be via Brookfield Way, Bitteswell Road and Bill Crane Way.
The plan is to re-develop the junction of Bill Crane Way and Leicester Road, right next to the recently completed housing developments, and only 100 yards from the new junction with the spine road, in order to cope with additional vehicles.
Some traffic would travel down the by-pass from Magna Park, through the Whittle Roundabout and then over the motorway to access from the A4304 junction.
The Whittle roundabout and the M1 junction will also be receiving development to cope with the additional traffic, so we should expect significant delays and disruption during the development period if we intend to head out to the M1, or if we use that route to go to Rugby.
The Scoping Report goes on for another 18 pages talking about mitigation of Environmental Impact and so on, all of which is important, but in reality wouldn't be needed without this development.
However, as the plan is with central government this week and will no doubt get approved, it will be adopted by Leicestershire County Council. Subject to Planning Approval it will go ahead, with construction traffic moving in within 18 months from now and staying here for the next 15 years.
So what are our options?
If you are in favour of the development, then do nothing as it will only be changed as a result of objections. You can, however, register your support for the proposals in the same way that objections can be made.
If you are against the development, or believe that it could be changed / improved, then you can do the following:
If the proposal is approved by Central Government and adopted into the LCC plan, it will then need to go through Planning. When it comes to Planning, probably sometime in 2019, there will be the further opportunity to register objections on the Harborough District Council Planning website. It is possible to object now, even though Planning has not commenced, by using the reference number 18/01157/SCP
My Comments - form your own view!
The Planners don’t live here, and will not experience 15 years of development with us
There will be millions of pounds generated for the County Council through Business Rates and Council Tax, none of which has been promised to Lutterworth
The scheme is justified only by the creation of more warehousing, which we don’t need
People will tell us it's a done deal, and we shouldn't waste our time. We DON’T have to put up with it