Lutterworth East Update - 17th December
Well a couple of things to let you know as the year draws to an end. Firstly, following my post on November 28th, you may remember that I had written to the Planning Director at Marrons (the planners), but expected no reply. Well, I was clearly being unfair as I have been able to engage in an email conversation with him that has enabled us to take half a step forward, as you will soon see. I wanted to know the following:
1. Progress on the revised plans
2. The date at which they are likely to be complete and available for inspection.
3. The proposed dates of stake holder meetings
4. The proposed dates of the full, two way, community consultation as required by the Inspector
5. A statement regarding the proposed timing of any planning application
In summary, he told me that the plans were being developed and that the "promoter" (ie the body that will be applying for planning permission, in this case Leicestershire County Council) was preparing their application. That application will include an illustrative master plan, which in our language is a plan showing the roads / housing / cycleways etc similar to that shown on other posts on this website. This master plan should reflect the feedback and comments received during the two days of consultation back in September, and also those received through the on-line process that I know many people took part in. In addition, it MUST reflect comments made by the Inspector at the hearing back in October, along with changes to the Harborough Policy L1 as directed by the Inspector - L1 is the Policy that specifically governs the parameters that need to be adhered to in the development of Lutterworth East. Finally, it will take in to account the results of all of the environmental assessments concerning noise, air pollution etc, along with results of traffic studies particularly along Leicester Road (A426). As far as a timescale is concerned, they intend to hold a stakeholder event in mid January, when the Town Council and other representative bodies get the chance to look at the plans, leading up to a planning application at the end of January. Their view is that the stakeholder event would be the last form of consultation that they would engage in, with all other consultation being as part of the planning application itself, where residents can place objections or can support the plan.
There were a number of points that he raised that I questioned, and as a result of this he decided to forward my emails to a gentleman by the name of Simon Lawrence, who is the Major Programmes Manager within Leicestershire County Council - in effect the chap who is in charge of the project for the County. Remember, it is the County Council who want to build Lutterworth East, and who will benefit financially from it. Mr Lawrence wrote to me and asked if we could have a chat, which we did on 28th November.
During the 10 or 15 minutes that we were discussing the issues, it became clear to me that the consultative approach, where the developer works hand in glove with the local population to create a development that would benefit everybody, was not one that they were either intending to adopt, or even that they were familiar with! I was told that the revised plan that we were waiting to see would be virtually identical to the one that we saw in September, with one or two minor alterations. Also, that it was never the intention for the Spine Road that runs through the new development to take any of the traffic that currently runs along the A426, and therefore we should not expect any reduction in traffic through Lutterworth. Finally, when pushed on consultation, he was of the view that they had no responsibility to consult further other than as part of the planning application. I pointed out that this would not comply with many the Inspectors comments or instructions, and was also at odds with comments made to me by Marrons (who he employs). Following a "full and frank exchange of views"on the subject, Mr Lawrence offered to attend the Town Council with the Planning Director from Marrons, in order to explain their plans once they were complete, and prior any stake holder event or planning application. While a date has not yet been determined, this meeting will take place in early January. Having carried out a large amount of due diligence on the plans that we have seen so far, it is my intention that whatever plans they place in front of us are subject to serious scrutiny. So half a step forward, in that at least we have the chance to question the plans prior to planning.
The final bit of news is that Harborough District Council have decided that it would be a good idea if the Lutterworth and surrounding communities were kept informed of what was happening as this project progresses. As a result they have set up the "Lutterworth East Community Partnership Group", of which I am one of the two members for Lutterworth. The idea is to keep residents informed, and also allow them to make comments. The first meeting is on Wednesday 19th December (this week), and I'll let you know what happens....
Finally, as always, remember that we are unlikely to be able to stop this development happening - the key thing is to ensure that we get the best deal that we can for Lutterworth and avoid being steam roller'd by people who just want to push it through. Sound familiar???