Local Plan - HDC Full Council Votes...
Good Morning All,
Well, the meeting took place last night, and unsurprisingly the Local Plan 2011 - 2031 was voted through. The documents that myself and David Gair produced were again referenced in the meeting, and points that we made gained support from at least one Councillor (wow!!), however let's look to see how our District Representatives voted on the night.
So, you will remember that Lutterworth has four District Councillors.
Councillor Geraldine Robinson did not attend, but sent her apologies
Councillor Elaine Chapman did not attend
Councillor Matt Hammond did not attend
Councillor Janette Ackerley DID attend, but voted for the adoption of the Local Plan
You must form your own view on how well you believe the interests of Lutterworth have been served by these Councillors, all of whom (with the exception of Matt Hammond) are standing for re-election.
Our County Councillor, Rosita Page, DID attend and abstained from the vote.
The one area of vocal support that Lutterworth received was from Councillor Mark Graves (Broughton Astley, Lib Dem). His first action was to request a recorded vote, which means that rather than a show of hands, each councillor is asked individually how they wish to vote, and that vote is recorded in the minutes against their name. Councillor Graves then pointed out the fact that of the four Councillors for Lutterworth, three were absent, as were other Councillors that had previously had key roles in the creation of the plan. Further, for such an important decision, that of the 37 Councillors entitled to be at the meeting, only 27 had turned up to vote. He stated that the Local Plan had manifestly failed to get local support (as was required), and that the documents produced by myself and David Gair contained relevant objections that should be taken in to account in the interests of Lutterworth residents. He pointed out that he could not understand how Councillor Bannister, the Conservative Leader, could merely wash away such concerns, as in the response to our documents the HDC Strategic Planning Manager had said that traffic issues will be addressed once the Strategic Development Area (Lutterworth East) had been delivered - that, ladies and gentlemen, will be in the year 2040. So, Broughton Astley, well done. You at least have a Councillor who is prepared to stand up, on his own, and speak against something that he believes not to be right. Let's hope that, after the vote on Thursday, Lutterworth gets someone similar.
So, what did others say?
Neil Bannister (Dunton, Conservative Leader) stood up and reiterated his previous comments. He said that all member of the Council had been involved in the formulation of the plan, and he acknowledged their contributions. He also acknowledged the contributions of the public, although failed to point out that not one single change had been made to the plan as a result of those comments. He hoped that the Council adopted the plan, and said that the Policies on Air Quality and Transport are welcome (don't hold your breath - or perhaps you should!!). He repeated his dislike for more warehousing adjacent to the motorway junction 20, but said that there was no evidence that the process of formulating the plan had been faulty (despite the fact that they failed to listen to residents). He said that the plan had taken many years and much money, and now was not the time to start again.
Janette Ackerley (Lutterworth, Conservative Executive Member) said that the provision of the SDA meant that the District would get infrastructure and facilities, and that even if there are things that are wrong with the plan, it would be too expensive and take too long to re-open the process. She said that development would be managed as it would be controlled by the Local Plan, however failed to recognise that the same principle means that if something is provided for in the Local Plan, then little can be done to object to it. Therefore, a Spine Road that is not intended to relieve the Leicester Road cannot be made to do so, because this is what the plan provides for. Warehousing next to the M1 can hardly be refused, as this is what the Local Plan provides for. However, additional Doctors surgeries and community facilities will only be provided if there is a demonstrated need. Councillor Ackerley ended by saying that by supporting the plan, in her view, she was acting in the best interests of Lutterworth residents.
Jonathan Bateman (Misterton, Conservative Executive Member) did speak this time. The plan had cost a lot to produce, and had taken a long time, and he fully supported it in order to give the Planning Committee power over adhoc developments. He believed that the Spine Road would relieve traffic on the Leicester Road (because it was the least worst option when travelling through Lutterworth!). Clearly he hasn't read the document, and doesn't understand that a Spine Road that is not designed to relieve Lutterworth will not be an attractive route to the existing traffic, nor to the 26% increase in Goods traffic that Leicestershire County Council themselves forecast will happen between now and 2036.
Rosita Page (Ullesthorpe, and Lutterworth County Councillor) spoke. She said that we have a plan, so we need to make it work. However, she did speak for residents on the expansion of Magna Park which she was very unhappy about, and the belief that 19% of the employment created will come from the district. Current unemployment in the district is extremely low, and the jobs created will have to be fulfilled by workers from outside the district, thus generating more traffic.
Philip King (Kibworth, Conservative Deputy Leader) also spoke. He pointed out the cost that had been incurred, and the time that it had taken for the plan to be formulated (6 years). He believed that meaningful consultation had taken place, and that residents have had the chance to influence the plan (200 comments to the Inspector, no change to the plan in response to those comments). I am unable to repeat the full extent of Councillor Kings comments as the remainder of his speech contained elements which may be subject to further (possibly legal) proceedings, and I don't want to prejudice the case.
So, other than a few other Councillors standing up to support the plan on the basis that it had cost a lot to produce and had taken 6 years, that was it. It was patently obvious that this was the driving force behind most decisions to support the plan, and it was equally obvious that the majority of those that spoke hadn't even read the plan, or if they had were oblivious to what it actually meant. The vote took place, with 25 Councillors voting for adoption of the plan, 1 abstaining, and 1 voting against. Therefore, while 92.5% of Councillors present voted for the plan, only 67% of all Councillors expressed that view, due to 10 councillors failing to attend the meeting, 3 of whom purport to represent Lutterworth.
I suppose the over riding feeling is that many Councillors stood up and said that there were things wrong with the plan, yet in the last 6 years they have been incapable of correcting those points and producing a plan that is acceptable to all. Listening to residents, and acting on the comments received would have taken these problems away. Further, the fact that as time has gone on the Local Plan has morphed from one that would control the development of Lutterworth East to one that allows LCC to build exactly what they have put in their planning application, suggests that HDC are now out of control of this development, and LCC have got their hands firmly on the steering wheel.
The details of this meeting and also of the previous Executive meeting will be reported to Lutterworth Town Council at their next full meeting, with the intention of allowing them to formulate an official position. The situation regarding predetermination is still under consideration, and legal advice has been sought. Alberto Costa, the local MP, has also been contacted but somewhat unsurprisingly no response has been received, not even an acknowledgment.
Finally, regarding the planning application for Lutterworth East. All indications to date have been that this will be a long drawn out process. However, HDC have added a page to their website with information about the SDA (Lutterworth East) which suggests that a decision may be made this summer, with the first houses being available in 2023. A link to the site is available here.
If anything else happens, I will of course keep you informed.