Successful Meetings - this is what happened...
Well, the meetings about the Local Plan are now over, and I'd like to thank the circa 300 people that came to see us in the Town Council offices. Hopefully everybody went away better informed, and hopefully felt empowered to make their comments to the Government Inspector.
I am conscious that not everybody could make it, so in this article I want to go through the key points that we covered in the meetings, and also attach the documents that we gave people to take away. If you know people that would be interested - share this post or copy them on the email that you received if you subscribe to this site. It will just get the word around quicker !
Firstly, we had a presentation that gave the key facts...
Having got the basics out of the way, we next looked at the proposed "masterplan" and thought about what it would give us. The map is shown below, and we started by taking an imaginary "drive" through Lutterworth in order to get an idea of what things would look like.
So, we are approaching Lutterworth from Dunton Bassett.
About 100 yards from Bill Crane Way, we get to a new set of traffic lights - this is the junction with the proposed "Spine Road". About 50 yards after that, we get to another new set of traffic lights - this is the junction with Bill Crane Way.
We then drive all the way through Lutterworth (remember - there isn't a by-pass so the traffic is heavy!!). We go through the lights by the Library, then through the lights by the Town Hall, down the hill, through the lights at the bottom of the hill, and head up towards the Whittle Roundabout - we are assuming at this point that Aldi has not yet been built.
We get to the roundabout - well, things have actually improved here because we have left hand filter lanes, so hopefully we won't be held up for too long, so we can look at the aeroplane on the roundabout because as far as we know it's staying there! We turn left heading for the motorway, and find that this is now controlled by.......traffic lights. We go over the lights heading for Market Harborough, and about 50 yards after turning on to the A4304 we stop at a new set of traffic lights - this is the other end of the Spine Road. Once they turn green, we travel about 50 yards more, and we stop at yet another set of new traffic lights - this is the turning on to the proposed new warehouse development. Once through these, we can go to Market Harborough....!
Of course - if Aldi has been built, we will probably encounter cars turning across the traffic from the right just in front of the Whittle Roundabout as they exit the Aldi store.
So, heavy traffic, and plenty of sets of traffic lights. Yep - that should turn Lutterworth back into a traditional, vibrant and prosperous Market Town !!
But what if we had turned left at the beginning, and gone along the Spine Road?
Well, we would have driven along the side of the new Gloster Road development and travelled over a brand new motorway bridge. This bridge will have been put there at a cost of about £20 million (so we are told), and will be there despite the fact that the test drilling went 90 metres down in to the ground and found sand all the way......
We would then have travelled over two roundabouts, followed the road through the housing estate (and past some offices and light industrial units), and finally arrived at the A4304 Market Harborough road at the new traffic lights. However, there will have been no Heavy Goods Vehicles, and traffic will have been light, because the road was not, and was never been intended to be, built to take traffic off the Leicester Road. The existing traffic, and all new traffic as a result of the local development, is still sitting squarely on the A426 Leicester Road.
We did encounter a bit of a problem though. We went past some offices and light industry - but the Government Inspector said last October that NOTHING should be built between the old residential part of Lutterworth and the new. He said it was bad enough that the M1 caused a line of severance between the two, and nothing else should make it worse. Leicestershire County Council obviously didn't do as they were told!
Also, when we got to the lights at the end of the Spine Road, in front of us was 13 hectares of warehouses. Now - I thought that all of the proposed warehouses were supposed to be at Magna Park? That's what Policy BE2 said - so, Leicestershire County Council turning a deaf ear again?
The really sad thing is that it could be so different.
People need somewhere to live, so the building of the houses is understandable - there will be affordable and social housing, along with the more expensive varieties. Children need to be educated, so while the timing of the schools seems wrong, and the doubt around secondary education facilities is wrong, at least there is the promise of something. Residents need facilities, so while we don't know exactly what will be provided, at least there is a list and there seems to be some intent, although there are major concerns about the provision of doctors and dentists in the area. The problem is that the consequences of all this are being ignored.
Lutterworth is an Air Quality Management Area, yet nothing is being done to reduce pollution. Indeed the plan suggests that as long as the pollution increase is no more than a moderate increase, this is all OK! Surely this is an ideal opportunity to improve matters, not make them worse?
At the meetings, we identified a solution.
Lutterworth needs a by-pass, but we won't be given one. So, how about this...
1) Don't build the new bridge over the motorway on the Spine Road. Instead, extend the Spine Road up to Ullesthorpe Road (the road from Gilmorton to Ullesthorpe). There is a motorway bridge already in existence that is designed for car use, and it means that any traffic going north from the new estate can do so without touching the populated part of Leicester Road.
2) Between Dunton Bassett and Countesthorpe there is a motorway bridge. Convert that, by adding slip roads, into M1 Junction 20a. All through traffic that is coming from the Leicester area to travel through Lutterworth to get to M1 Junction 20 would then be diverted on to the motorway at 20a instead.
3) Back towards Lutterworth, just after the quarry, de-classify the A426 and turn it in to the B426. At this point apply a 7.5 tonne weight limit (except for access). This will then make it illegal for HGV traffic travelling through Lutterworth to do so, but will allow such traffic if it's destination is inside Lutterworth.
4) Put a similar weight restriction on the Leicester Road at the Whittle Roundabout to protect the town from the South.
In this way
Lutterworth is protected with a by-pass (the M1) in a way that is far cheaper and far more environmentally friendly than a new road built for the purpose.
Traffic levels in Lutterworth reduce significantly
An additional bridge over the M1 doesn't have to be built.
Air Pollution levels, and noise levels, in Lutterworth (old and new) would be reduced.
We can start to look at how we then improve the centre of Lutterworth for shoppers, visitors, and residents alike, all without the thought of 44 tonne trucks and streams of cars running through the centre just to get from one end to the other without stopping and bringing some benefit.
This won't solve all of the problems - we would still have a car parking issue. But if that was our main problem, I guess we'd be a lot happier !
As far as the industry on the new development is concerned? Well, remove the warehousing as it isn't needed and contravenes Policy BE2. Use that area to re-locate the offices and light industry - there is more than enough room. Also, if Aldi was there as well, that would remove the potential traffic issues north of the Whittle Roundabout, and could actually reduce traffic movements overall.
At the end of the meeting we shared the Town Council's official Press Release which stated their position.
Well, that was pretty much it. About 18 hours of talking to residents, some great feedback, some great contributions and I think we all learnt a few things. I then went home to watch England play Wales - went down hill from there !!!
Finally, if you listen to Facebook, we are wasting our time and everything is a done deal. IT IS NOT. NOTHING is settled until the Government Inspector has approved all of the Local Plan, and if he doesn't like something HE WILL tell Harborough District Council to go away and change it.
So, there is still time to register your views
By post -
Strategic and Local Planning Team
Harborough District Council
Adam and Eve Street
By email -
On Wednesday 27th February I'll be attending a meeting of the East of Lutterworth Strategic Development Area Community Partnership Group. This is where we get to put the tough questions to the "promoter", Leicestershire County Council, and we try to shape things. I'll let you know what happens....