Lutterworth East - Planning Application and "Consultation"
Good Afternoon All,
Well, while I was hoping that Leicestershire County Council may wait until the Local Plan had been determined, it was always going to happen at some point. On the morning of Wednesday 27th February, LCC submitted a planning application for Lutterworth East. It is based around the masterplan that was shown at the Lutterworth Town Council drop-in sessions last week - apparently there are minor alterations, but they have escaped my notice to date!
It is unfortunate, as we were hoping to influence the application at a meeting of the East of Lutterworth Strategic Development Area Community Partnership Group on Wednesday night, but there we go. However, it didn't stop us giving LCC, and their planners Marrons, the benefit of our opinions on the fact that they were losing such a great opportunity to do some good for the area.
So, before we all start getting despondent, we need to understand what this actually means. All it means is that they have submitted a planning application - effectively they have declared their hand in terms of what they actually want to build. Let's be clear on what will need to happen before they go any further:
1. The Inspector will complete his deliberations on the Local Plan, including the 200 comments that were submitted to him! If he is not happy that the plan is "sound", he will tell Harborough District Council to go away and do it again. This may mean that the application submitted by LCC doesn't fit with the final plan, in which case the application would have to change and be re-submitted, or run the risk of not being approved.
2. If the Inspector is happy, or once he is happy with a re-submitted Local Plan, then he will declare it sound and it will be able to be adopted.
3. The Local Plan then needs to be voted on at Harborough District Council. While there is no real likelihood that they will vote against their own plan, timing is interesting. The Inspector is not likely to come to a decision much before mid-April, and at the beginning of May there are the Local Council elections, affecting Parish, Town and District Councils. In theory, come mid-May, there may be an entirely different set of people involved in the process, so this may delay things - don't raise hopes too high, however, as once approved by the Inspector the Council has a duty to adopt as soon as possible.
4. Once adopted, it needs to be established that the planning application does indeed meet all of the criteria of the final Local Plan. If not, the application may need to be re-submitted.
5. Consultation. The Local Plan requires that the promoter (LCC) enters in to consultation with the local community, and this needs to be done at every stage if there are any changes to the planning application itself. It is estimated that the planning process will take around 18 months to 2 years.
6. Once the planning application is approved, in theory they can get on and start building, provided that they comply with the Local Plan. Their aspiration is that 1,500 houses are built by 2031, and the remainder of the 2,750 by 2036.
So, the next stage that local residents will get involved in will be Consultation.
As it is currently worded, the Local Plan states that the development "...should be in accordance with a masterplan that is produced with the full engagement of the existing community of Lutterworth and which has the support of the population through a consultation process..." For info, the dictionary definition of "consultation" is "...the process of discussing something with someone in order to get their advice or opinion about it..." (Cambridge English Dictionary).
LCC and Marrons told us on Wednesday that they intended to enter in to consultation with the residents of Lutterworth on Friday 22nd March, from about mid day to mid evening, by hosting an "exhibition" at the Wycliffe Rooms, a similar event to the one that was held last September. There would be display boards showing the master plan, and planners on hand to describe what would be produced. However, and read this next bit carefully, there will be no opportunity for the public to register their views on the plans. This date has not been formally confirmed yet, so may change, but you are now aware of their intention.
So, the definition of consultation is - "...the process of discussing something with someone in order to get their advice or opinion about it..."
LCC say that "there will be no opportunity for the public to register their views on the plans."
The Local Plan says that the masterplan must be "...produced with the full engagement of the existing community of Lutterworth and which has the support of the population through a consultation process..."
People will need to decide whether the "consultation" process that they are about to go through complies with the definition, and with the Local Plan requirements. People will also need to decide whether they feel that they can support the plans, if there is no relief to the Leicester Road. However, if they do, how will LCC know, as they are not taking comments?
Well, it baffles me. The one thing that I do know is that at the "exhibition" there is nothing to stop people from expressing their views, whether or not their views are being recorded. The 300 people that attended the Town Council drop-in sessions last week were all very concerned that there was no traffic or pollution relief for the Leicester Road - nothing has changed in the submitted masterplan, so my guess is that this view will still hold. On Wednesday, LCC did say that the Spine Road will now be designed to take traffic from the Leicester Road, and by the end of the development (2036) they hope that it will have taken about 30% of the current traffic away. Of course, this traffic is merely being diverted through another (albeit new) part of Lutterworth, so there would be no reduction in pollution for Lutterworth as a whole, it would just be moved around a bit. If that satisfies people, then no doubt they will support it - if not, then they probably won't.
Of course, the new development will also add traffic - not sure what that does to the maths...
So that's the update folks ! There will be further, more widespread information about the "exhibition", and once the details are confirmed I will let you know.
If you are interested, the Planning Application will be live on the Harborough District Council website by Monday (if it isn't already), and the planning application number is 19/00250/OUT. Have a look, see what you think - the facility to make comments / objections should also be live.
I'll be back to you as soon as I know more!