Lutterworth East Goes to Planning Tonight
Lutterworth East goes to HDC Planning Committee tonight, Tuesday 28th July. It is an online meeting, starting at 6:30pm, and you can access it via the HDC website here.
Lutterworth Town Council have worked hard to ensure that the issues raised by the development are brought to the attention of as many people as possible. However, while some have been receptive, others such as Alberto Costa have refused to even speak to us on the matter, despite us trying to get a meeting since April 2019! Mr Costa, through his representatives, informed us that he doesn't get involved in planning matters, so it will come as a surprise then that he is scheduled to speak in support of Lutterworth East at tonight's meeting.
Lutterworth Town Council have submitted a 14 page response to the 360 page Planning Committee Report - the latter recommends acceptance of the plans, LTC point out its failings. The full response is detailed below.
We keep our fingers crossed that sanity will prevail, and that changes are made to the plans that will help protect both Lutterworth and the new development from the damage that the proposals will cause in terms of traffic, air pollution and noise. All they have to do is change the routing of the spine road, put a weight limit on the Leicester Road, and designate the spine road as the A426. We know this will solve the air quality issues in Lutterworth as we have the evidence of the reduced pollution following lockdown, and we also know from the Planning Committee Report that the problems will not transfer to the new development.
The Town Council response to the Planning Committee Report is as follows:
EAST OF LUTTERWORTH SDA
PLANNING APPLICATION 19/00250/OUT
REPRESENTATION TO PLANNING COMMITTEE
a. The compliance of this application to the Local Plan is in serious question.
b. Many of the issues can be resolved by the adoption of spine road Option 1 rather than the presented Option 4. This would give greater acceptability and improved noise and air quality without impacting the new development.
c. Experts have been ignored. We cannot have planning approval for such a large development where expert advice is disregarded. The result is a sub optimal, not the required “exemplar” development.
d. Air Quality has been disregarded. The opportunity exists for a holistic approach that resolves a 20-year-old AQMA, benefits thousands of current and future residents, and does not place the burden on the new development.
e. The Planning Committee Report states that the chosen spine road option DOES NOT perform best in terms of air quality and noise – the best performing option is Option 1, yet this is being disregarded.
f. The report states that residents will be exposed to unacceptable noise levels around 70 decibels, resulting in windows having to be kept closed. One primary school will have background noise of 64 decibels.
g. The full application for the spine road is incomplete in terms of detail, management plans and control processes. There is not one commitment regarding construction traffic management, public traffic management, hours of work, work processes, or anything that could (and might need to) be enforced.
h. The committee must stop this application based on the spine road routing alone. Re-submission of the application using spine road Option 1 would remove all major objections and would enable compliance with Law and Local Plan. Members must require a detailed spine road Construction Traffic Management Plan to be submitted prior to any further application, and that Lutterworth Town Council are party to that agreement. An agreed, formal process for raising issues with the applicant’s developer once any construction has commenced must be put in place.
i. Leicestershire County Council, along with Harborough District Council, have this opportunity to substantially increase the wider benefit by re-routing the spine road and relieving Lutterworth town centre of heavy traffic WITHOUT impacting the new development. In doing so, they would remove the Lutterworth AQMA, reduce noise levels, improve the public realm within the centre of Lutterworth (a Local Plan requirement), improve the pedestrian crossing experience over High Street, and enable the progression of the Lutterworth Town Centre masterplan. Lutterworth is part of Leicestershire – all we are asking is that the District Council and County Council do what is best for their residents in the wider context. The opportunity to do so exists now – if it is ignored, the opportunity is lost forever.
Lutterworth Town Council recognises that the East of Lutterworth Strategic Development Area is provided for within the Harborough District Local Plan 2011 – 2031, and the Town Council also recognises the requirement for new housing.
However, the 361 pages of the planning report relating to application 19/00250/OUT clearly state that it considers TWO planning applications. The “outline” permission is for the housing development, internal road network and associated buildings, all of which would be subject to further scrutiny as part of a reserved matters process, while page 1 of the document states the existence of a “full” application for the Spine Road. The “full” application has not been made clear at any previous stage of the application process and means that any decision that approves the overall application accepts that the Spine Road will be built exactly as depicted – there is no “Reserved Matters” process that can give further scrutiny to the detail.
Therefore, this representation will apply focus to the spine road in addition to commenting on the wider application. This will be done by considering the following:
· Compliance with the Harborough District Local Plan 2011-2031
· Compliance with expert advice presented as part of the application process
· Lutterworth Town Air Quality Management Area
· Construction Traffic Management Plan
1. Compliance with the Harborough District Local Plan 2011 – 2031
Policy L1 of the Local Plan is the main policy that governs the development of the Strategic Development Area and contains specific requirements regarding the creation of the Spine Road. However, other policies, specifically Policy HC2 – Built Heritage, and Policy GD5 – Landscape Character also influence the requirements.
The requirements of Policy L1 are detailed in the Explanations, commencing on page 193 of the Local Plan.
· 15.2.2 requires 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 as part of either a Supplementary Planning Document, a Neighbourhood Plan or a planning application.”
o The reality is that none of this has been satisfied. The applicant has “engaged” with the community by holding two “exhibitions” detailing their intentions. While the community expressed their views, many of which were negative, no changes have been made to the proposed masterplan as a result of those views. It is completely inaccurate to suggest that the community is engaged with this development whatsoever. In the Planning Committee Report, paragraph 3.49 states that of 950 visitors to the exhibition (out of 10,750 residents), 252 comment forms were received. At no stage does it demonstrate that any of the comments were addressed, or that local views were taken in to account. This does not in any way demonstrate support, indeed the lack of such demonstration indicates that they have no support to demonstrate. Far from being “consultation”, this process has effectively amounted to “dictation”.
o The applicant has produced a planning application and believes they have engaged in consultation. The Local Plan requires that this consultation process has the support of the population, yet the HDC planning portal demonstrates that there are 162 objections to the scheme and absolutely none in support. The applicant has not in any way demonstrated support, and by no measure can it be claimed that the Local Plan requirement has been satisfied.
o Lutterworth Town Council DID hold specific public engagement on this issue on 22nd March 2019. The results were that 82.5% of those who responded were against the proposals, a significant number of which stating the lack of a by-pass for Lutterworth and significant traffic impact amongst their reasons.
· 15.2.6 requires the provision of a spine road, which is predicted to remove some of the through traffic from Lutterworth town centre.
o However, paragraph 6.7.1 states that “…the development may result in increased traffic flows with an impact on the AQMA”
o Further, paragraph 6.7.10 tells us that there is only one point in Lutterworth (off the Gilmorton Road) where there are any predicted reductions in pollution. Remember – the Gilmorton Road is going to be closed to through traffic, so this is hardly an ecological coup. However, we are told that pollution will INCREASE along the A4304 to the south of Misterton, and off Gilmorton Road to the north of the proposed spine road.
o Paragraph 6.7.17 states that the development will make no difference to the Lutterworth AQMA (despite a Local Plan requirement to do so), and yet the report is worded such that it is made to sound like a good thing!
o This proposal will not, on its own admission, satisfy the Local Plan. It cannot be passed in its current form.
· 15.2.9 is more specific on the subject. While 15.2.6 predicts that some traffic will be removed as a result of the spine road, this clause states that the objectives are to “deliver a spine road to alleviate pressure upon Lutterworth High Street and the Air Quality Management Area”.
o Paragraph 6.3.40 of the Planning Committee Report states a position that is clearly in breach of this requirement of the Local Plan. It states that “…the primary purpose of the spine road is to provide a development access and it is not intended to be a by-pass for Lutterworth Town Centre…”. This is a clear breach of the Local Plan – the use of the word “by-pass” is irrelevant – it is clear from this that the applicant does not intend that the spine road should give any relief to Lutterworth High Street or the AQMA. The application should be refused on this point alone.
o As evidence to this fact, there is no reference to any signage that will direct traffic away from Lutterworth, and certainly no reference to any form of traffic prohibition that will require heavy vehicles to avoid Lutterworth.
o Effectively, the choice of route will be left to drivers – the applicant will do nothing in this regard to achieve the Local Plan objectives. No lorry driver will take a new, longer, more diversionary route when they can take the same direct route that they have always taken.
o Paragraph 7 of this clause requires the applicant to deliver “...an exemplar scheme which demonstrates the highest standards of urban design”.
§ However, paragraph 4.4.13 of the Planning Committee Report tells us that “…residents occupying premises close to the M1 may be afforded a poor standard of living accommodation.”
§ Paragraph 4.4.8 tells us that in residential zone R6 (between the proposed spine road and the motorway), even with a 4m high noise reduction barrier, background noise levels are expected to be in the region of 70 decibels. We later learn that it will take a noise barrier over 6m high to reduce these.
§ Paragraph 4.4.14 requires that a condition is placed on the application that ensures that background noise levels in the gardens of dwellings does not exceed 50 decibels and does not exceed 35 decibels within internal rooms with the windows open. Such a condition is not necessary if the design of the development has prevented the problem in the first place.
§ Paragraph 4.4.3 tells us that it is the expectation of the HDC Contaminated Land and Air Quality Officer that in residential zones R6 and R8 (between spine road and M1, to the south of Gilmorton Road) a new AQMA will be created as a result of the development and spine road design.
§ Finally, in paragraph 6.94 we are told that spine road option 1 performed best in terms of Air Quality and Noise, yet despite the issues raised in the preceding points, the applicant has selected a sub optimal spine road option.
§ This can hardly satisfy the Local Plan requirement for “…an exemplar scheme which demonstrates the highest standards of urban design”.
· 15.2.21 readily admits that the development will increase peak time traffic in Lutterworth by between 10% and 17% until the spine road is built
o The forecast in the Local Plan is that this would be circa 2030, however it is already behind that schedule
o Lutterworth is therefore destined for an increase in town centre traffic for the next 10 years, in the hope that the spine road will offer some relief.
o As we have seen, there is nothing in the Planning Committee Report that demonstrates that there are planned measures in place to actually make this reduction happen. This is a full application that is being considered, and yet there is no reference to any form of mitigation that will be put in place to offset the impacts of the development that will last for the next 10 years.
· 15.2.24 states that “Following completion of the spine road, traffic management measures and public realm improvements will be developed to remove or minimise the passage of HGVs through the centre of Lutterworth…”
o This is not just a paragraph in the explanations. This is also a specific policy commitment, in Policy L1, Section 6.
o Again, there is nothing in the Planning Committee Report that demonstrates how this will take place, nor is there any commitment as to the measures that will be implemented.
o Further, any form of local knowledge of Lutterworth will reveal the flaw in the plan.
§ In order to relieve Lutterworth High Street, there has to be somewhere else for the traffic to go. There are currently no other local options to take traffic around Lutterworth.
§ The only possible option would be the spine road, however the proposed design and location of the spine road causes a problem.
§ As it stands, the spine road option that is proposed is known as Option 4, and it is designed to take traffic on a meandering route through the new development.
§ Running from the south, it will take traffic past a new business area, through the centre of the proposed Swift Valley Community Park, past the sports pitches, through the centre of the proposed Wycliffe Fields housing development, past the classroom buildings of the southern-most school, past the community hub, and continues through the Wycliffe Fields development to the junction with the Gilmorton Road.
§ Therefore, any traffic that IS diverted from Lutterworth centre will take this route, impacting residents, school children and those engaged in leisure pursuits within the new development.
§ So, in 10 years-time when the decision is taken to enact Policy L1 Section 6, the ONLY alternative will be to use a spine road that is badly placed for the purpose and that will simply move the problem from Lutterworth to Lutterworth East. Option 4 is shown below.
o However, there is an alternative. Spine Road Option 1 does not have any of the problems generated by Option 4, as it is designed to run largely parallel to the M1.
o Therefore, rather than running THROUGH housing developments, community hub areas, community parks, past schools etc, it is designed to avoid these and run at the side of the development.
o The ONLY sacrifice is that rather than running past the new business area in the south, it would run through it. It would hardly impact the business operators and would significantly benefit the residents and users of the Lutterworth East development.
o The plan of Option 1 is shown below.
o This version of the spine road WOULD be appropriate to take diverted traffic from Lutterworth and WOULD NOT carry the problem from one area to another.
o Paragraph 6.94 of the Planning Committee Report states that spine road Option 1 performed best in terms of air quality and noise.
o The applicant, however, refuses to listen. As we will see in the next section, it is not only Lutterworth Town Council who are not being listened to.
Policy HC1 – Built Heritage
The setting of the Grade 1 listed St Leonards Church, Misterton is discussed at length within the Planning Committee Report, especially with regard to the impact of the proposed spine road upon it’s setting. Policy HC1, Section 1, states that “…development affecting heritage assets will be permitted where it protects, conserves or enhances the significance, character, appearance and setting of the asset, including where possible better revealing the significance of the asset and enabling its interpretation”. Under no circumstances does spine road Option 4 comply with this requirement, indeed it is one of the main thrusts of Historic England’s objection that the Option chosen harms the setting of the church.
Further, Section 2 of Policy HC1 states that where the development would lead to less than substantial harm to the asset or its setting, this harm will be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal. The simple fact is that while Option 4 causes harm to the setting of St Leonards Church, a viable alternative is available which in the opinion of Historic England does not cause such harm but does give equal public benefit in providing a spine road for the development.
Explanation 8.1.1 states that “…the character, quality and diversity of the District’s extensive historic environment will be taken fully in to account with a view to its conservation and enhancement in the context of the sustainable development of the District”. Allowing a sub-optimal spine road option which has greater impact on the setting of an asset cannot possibly comply with this Local Plan policy commitment.
Explanation 8.1.5 states that where a proposal will cause harm to an asset the Council will require evidence that there are considerable public benefits to justify the harm or that there are no other mechanisms for supporting the retention of the asset. In this case, there is an alternative mechanism, and that is that spine road Option 1 is adopted in place of Option 4, and this change is supported by Historic England.
Explanation 8.1.6 states that where planning permission is granted, appropriate conditions may be applied and planning obligations may be secured to ensure that assets are appropriately conserved. There is therefore an opportunity here for the planning committee to approve planning permission with the condition that the spine road follows the route laid out in Option 1, thus preserving the St Leonards asset to the satisfaction of Historic England.
Policy GD5 – Landscape Character
Policy GD5 requires that developments respect and where possible enhance local landscapes, settings of settlements and settlement distinctiveness. Further, they should avoid the loss of, or substantial harm to, features of landscape importance, and they should safeguard important public views, skylines and landmarks.
The scale of the Lutterworth East development is such that it will obliterate the landscape setting in which it sits. Views from Misterton over to Gilmorton, and vice versa, will be lost for ever, and while the line of site between St Leonards Church and St Marys Church in Lutterworth may well be retained, the accompanying view will take in to account new warehousing to the south and a new business park to the west. None of this could be considered to respect or enhance the local setting.
Policy H4 – Specialist Housing
Harborough District Council are clear on the provision of Specialist Housing. They state that on all developments of over 100 dwellings, they would require at least 10% of dwellings to be in the specialist Housing category. Further, that it must be conveniently located to local retail and community services.
In the 361 pages of the Planning Committee Report, we can find not one reference to the provision of Specialist Housing within the development.
Serious questions have to be asked regarding the compliance of certain parts of this development to Policies L1, HC1, GD5 and H4.
o The failure to comply with the highlighted requirements of Policy L1 will have a detrimental impact on Lutterworth. This can be resolved by a change of spine road option.
o The sub optimal choice of spine road option leads to an impact on Policy HC1 and is in direct contravention with advice received within the report from Historic England. Again, changing spine road option will resolve this.
o The destruction of the character of the landscape, along with existing views, hardly complies with Policy GD5.
o Policy H4 remains entirely unsatisfied, indeed seemingly entirely ignored.
2. Compliance with expert advice presented as part of the application process
Expert advice has been received from a number of areas:
o Historic England
o The Landscape Partnership (report commissioned by Harborough District Council)
o Wood Consultants (report commissioned by Lutterworth Town Council)
o Leicestershire County Council Planning Ecologist
o Harborough District Council Environment Health Officer (Noise)
In paragraphs 4.1.8 to 4.1.51 of the Planning Committee Report, Historic England clearly describe the spine road routing (known as “Option 4”) as an “alien feature” that detracts from the setting of St Leonards church. Further, that the routing is “very harmful” and that they are “keen for an option running parallel to the M1”. They state that “Option 1 creates a greater visual separation between the road and the church”, and that “the application contains no justification why this option has not been pursued and why the more harmful Option 4 has been put forward”.
There is a statutory requirement to have special regard to the desirability of preserving the setting of a listed building (Section 66, paragraph 1 of the 1990 Act), which the selected spine road option does not comply with. Historic England state that “…we consider the proposed development would not meet the criteria of, and would be contrary to, Policy L1 ‘Lutterworth East SDA’. This states within criteria u, that “the proposed new access road should be routed to have regard to any undesignated archaeology and minimise its impact on all heritage assets, particularly the inter-visibility between the Church of St Leonard and the Church of St Mary. We, therefore, recommend that the new spine road is re- located to run parallel and close to the M1 as we have previously stated throughout our advice”.
· Effect on listed buildings and conservation areas are valid reasons for refusal of a planning application
· Adverse impact on archaeology is a valid reason for refusal of a planning application
· Failure to adhere to statutory instruments is a valid reason for rejecting a planning application
Spine Road Option 1 would satisfy this objection. Historic England further state that, “…the current plan for the Spine Road is in breach of NPPF paragraphs 192, 193, 194 and 196”. These require that great weight should be given to the assets’ conservation. This is irrespective of whether any potential harm amounts to substantial harm, total loss or less than substantial harm to its significance. Further, any harm to, or loss of, the significance of a designated heritage asset (from its alteration or destruction, or from development within its setting), should require clear and convincing justification. Where a development proposal will lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of a designated heritage asset, this harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal including, where appropriate, securing its optimum viable use.
There is no adequate justification to impact on the setting of St Leonards church, especially as there is an alternative routing for the spine road that Historic England would accept. Further, the public would not receive any greater benefit from the routing of the spine road as per the plan. Indeed, it can be argued that the alternative, Option 1, gives residents of the new development greater benefit.
· Failure to adhere to statutory instruments is a valid reason for rejecting a planning application
In a response to these concerns, the applicant has said that to adopt spine road Option 1 would potentially impact on a greater amount of non-designated archaeological resources, and therefore Option 4 has been chosen, despite the fact that Option 1 performs best in terms of air quality and noise. It must be made clear that Historic England have picked up on this response and have clearly stated that these areas are of less importance, and that the focus must be on the protection of the environment around St Leonards church, effectively dismissing the reasoning used by the applicant.
Historic England are experts. At every stage of their evidence they continually refer to the need to re-locate the spine road adjacent to the M1, following spine road Option 1 routing. They clearly state that this is the best option as far as the protection of heritage assets is concerned. They are completely aligned with all other expert opinion regarding spine road routing. Yet their expertise is being ignored in this application.
Harborough District Council
HDC commissioned a report which looked at the routing of the Spine Road, carried out by the Landscape Partnership. This report rejects the applicant’s chosen option and favoured Option 1, stating that it
1. was more closely aligned with the M1
2. would have benefits of reducing severance of the new community by combining the two main north south transport corridors together in one zone (a requirement of the Planning Inspector)
3. would reduce the need for multiple access points along the route and aid the flow of traffic from the A4304 and the A426
4. would enable improved air quality and lower road speeds within the main residential development (a requirement of the Local Plan)
5. would ensure that the closest housing was set further from the M1 (recognising the concerns of the HDC Environment Team Leader in terms of noise impact on residents)
6. would satisfy the requirements of Historic England, to reduce the effects on the setting of Misterton church.
7. could form a more efficient relief road for Lutterworth, a requirement of Local Plan Policy L1, Explanation 15.2.9
This report will not have been cheap but is yet again a clear statement from experts that is being ignored.
Lutterworth Town Council
LTC commissioned a report (the Wood Report) to review the findings of the Landscape Partnership. While agreeing with those findings, it pointed out that claims by the applicant of a traffic reduction in Lutterworth “once the spine road was complete” completely ignore the fact that the development itself is not complete at this stage, and therefore the full traffic flow volumes are not being seen. There is therefore serious doubt regarding the claims of future traffic reduction, and the benefit that this will bring to Lutterworth, as the plans do not include any direction or incentivisation for traffic to use the spine road in place of Lutterworth High Street.
Leicestershire County Council Planning Ecologist
In Planning Committee Report paragraph 4.3.7 it is stated that they are unhappy with the Spine Road design, impacting great crested newts in the north, and otter, crayfish and water vole in the south, and states that the findings of the invertebrate study have not been fed in to the spine road design.
· Failure to comply with nature conservation is a valid reason for rejecting a planning application
Harborough District Council Environmental Health Officer (Noise)
In Planning Committee Report paragraphs 4.4.11 to 4.4.13, it is stated that “…it remains our opinion that little consideration has gone into the reconfiguration of the site, taking into account the high levels of noise emanating from the M1 motorway. We believe that by replacing previous plots along the M1 corridor identified as commercial / industrial with residential, the development does not comply with “good acoustic design”, as quoted in ProPG.” Further, that “…we still hold concerns and reservations that the development could result in residents occupying premises close to the M1 may be afforded a poor standard of living accommodation, reliant on windows being closed throughout the day and evening as well as being unable to use external gardens without being subject to potential disturbance.”
Paragraph 6.5.30 clearly states that the background noise levels in the school that is located next to the proposed spine road will reach 64 decibels and will preclude the use of open windows.
Paragraph 6.40 of the Planning Committee Report states very clearly that out of the four available options, spine road Option 1 performs best in terms of noise and air quality. We must remember that the primary purpose of the Lutterworth East development is to provide 2,750 houses in which people will live. To then select a spine road option that is sub optimal in terms of noise and air quality, in a place where some 8,000 residents will call home, and where school children will not be able to have classroom windows opened can only be considered to be negligent at best. This is a FULL planning application for the spine road, yet experts and common sense are directing that the wrong routing option has been chosen. Please listen to the experts and refuse this application.
Urban Design Group
The Urban Design Group, a London based charity that promotes high standards of performance in urban planning and design are particularly critical.
In paragraphs 4.6.1 to 4.65, they tell us that the chosen spine road option will create a divided community, and that the proposal does not meet the requirements of the NPPF. Further, that the 40mph speed limits at the northern and southern reaches of the spine road will be a considerable hazard to children. They point out that a bypass road was available as an option and would have resolved many of the issues. They have intimated that the Road Safety Audit applied to the spine road is not appropriate for the type of road that is being built but is applicable to trunk road and motorway improvement schemes. Further, it makes no mention of the presence of a school on the route or the potential for children to cross at non designated crossing points, and the crossings that are provided have been assessed against the wrong set of criteria. There appears to be concern within their representation that appropriate standards have not been achieved.
Six sets of experts have offered consistent opinion and advice indicating that the selected spine road option is the wrong one, and either directly stating that Option 1 is the best option or highlighting issues that Option 1 would solve. Despite this, the applicant continues to ignore this and refuses to amend the plan accordingly. This is a Full application for the spine road – expert advice MUST be listened to, respected, and adhered to, especially where that advice is all pointing in the same direction. It is only the applicant that insists on routing the spine road along the lines of Option 4 – everyone else, without exception, insists that Option 1 is the best routing for all reasons.
3. Lutterworth Town Air Quality Management Area
In 2001 it was established that the annual mean air quality objective for nitrogen dioxide in Lutterworth town centre was not being achieved and it was declared an Air Quality Management Area. The objective was to reduce nitrogen oxide levels to 40 μgm-3 NO2 when expressed as an annual mean, to be achieved by 31st December 2005. After a Detailed Assessment it was concluded that as there was no other significant source of nitrogen dioxide in the area, road traffic was the major cause.
In 2013 it was determined that the previous action plan included many community-based interventions which resulted in a negligible impact on air quality, and significant improvement to relied primarily on a major road building scheme which was determined as not feasible.
The assessment also included a study which found that:
o Annual average daily traffic was approximately 15,000 vehicle movements
o HGVs make up approximately 6% of the annual average daily traffic and contribute 40 to 45% of nitrogen dioxide
o Cars make up approximately 85% of annual average daily traffic and contribute 45 to 50% of nitrogen dioxide
o There is a correlation between the total number of hourly vehicle movements and hourly average nitrogen dioxide concentration
In 2013, an Air Quality Management Area Action Plan was put in place. In Table 5 on page 27 it identifies options to improve Air Quality in Lutterworth. The third option was stated as:
o Construction of a new eastern route in Lutterworth, as considered in the Lutterworth traffic study
The positive impacts were
o Would remove HGV traffic from the town centre – this would remove 6% of the traffic but 45% of the nitrogen dioxide.
o Air quality within Lutterworth town centre would improve significantly
o That it was the best of the options in terms of supporting the economic growth of Lutterworth (improved access to junction 20)
The negative impacts were
o Has a high scheme cost
o Would be difficult to implement due to modifications required to the motorway junction
In 2020, seven years later, we are in a position whereby £83m is being proposed to be spent on a spine road for the new development, a spine road which the Local Plan states must alleviate pressure upon Lutterworth High Street and the Air Quality Management Area, a spine road that could be routed to avoid impacting the new residential development, and a spine road that could easily be built as the “eastern route in Lutterworth” from the 2013 Air Quality Management Area Acton Plan. The provision of this money removes the negative impact of “high scheme cost”, and as the motorway junction works are also taking place as part of the Lutterworth East development this negative impact is also removed.
In Planning Committee Report paragraph 4.4.1, Harborough District Council’s Contaminated Land and Air Quality Officer stated:
“In order to provide an air quality benefit to Lutterworth, the A426 should be declassified between the junction with the A4303 (Whittle roundabout and the point where the spine road joins the A426. The spine road should then be classified as the A426, a weight restriction should then be placed on a portion of the current A426 (Rugby Road, High Street and Market Street) between the junction with the A4303 (Whittle roundabout) and the junction with George Street. This would remove traffic from the currently congested centre of Lutterworth and provide an eastern relief road. This would result in the AQMA being undeclared.”
Local Plan Policy CC1 (Climate Change) requires major developments to demonstrate how carbon emissions can be minimised, and also commits HDC to reduce the carbon footprint. Given that Lutterworth features a hill over which all traffic must pass, the diversion of traffic to a new road with greater flow and less incline will inevitably reduce the carbon footprint of the area.
Ian Bartlett, HDC Environment Team Leader states in his submission to the planning application that he continues to be concerned about the development, and says that “…we would object to the application on the grounds that policy IN2 of the Local plan has not been met, and that the development fails to comply with paragraph 170e of the NPPF 2019 i.e.
“Development should, wherever possible, help to improve local environmental conditions such as air and water quality…”
· Failure to adhere to statutory instruments is a valid reason for rejecting a planning application
Paragraph 6.94 of the Planning Committee Report clearly states that spine road Option 1 performs best in terms of air quality and noise. Combined with the above comments from experts in the field, it is unfathomable that a County Council is choosing a spine road option that does not give the greatest health benefits to the local residents, especially when the reasons for making this choice (protection of heritage assets) are completely contested by the relevant experts, in this case Historic England.
So, we have the “best of options” as identified in the 2013 AQMA Action Plan; we have the funding for an eastern road in Lutterworth; we have the funding for the motorway junction works; we have a very clear statement from the HDC Contaminated Land and Air Quality Officer; we have the ability to deliver HDC Policy L1 Section 6; we have the ability to deliver on Policy CC1; we have the ability to solve the AQMA once and for all; we have the ability to avoid breaches of the Local Plan and the NPPF; and we have the refusal of Leicestershire County Council to listen.
4. Construction Traffic Management Plan
Paragraph 6.3.73 of the Planning Committee Report refers to the Construction Traffic Management Plan. This reference is in relation to the outline application, which in essence is not a problem at this stage
With a full planning application, we would expect all elements associated with it to be included, yet this is not the case. The plan does not include a definitive Construction Traffic Management Plan for the creation of the Spine Road (a 10-year project), indeed the application excludes the Spine Road from the requirements of many of the clauses and proposed planning conditions which serve to protect the locality during the construction period. Passing this application as it stands will mean that planning officers will have no control over what the developer does while constructing the spine road, and the impact on the locality will go unchallenged.
Paragraph 6.7.9 tells us that in the initial year of spine road construction (2021), Lutterworth will experience an additional 151 heavy goods vehicle movements per day as a result of the development. Yet there is no plan to manage this traffic, to direct it, to route it or control it.
Lutterworth Town Council made representations to the planning process, and these are listed in paragraphs 4.5.27 to 4.5.34 of the Planning Committee Report. These representations dealt in detail with requirements of a Construction Traffic Management Plan along with a wider Traffic Management Plan. None of these comments, as far as can be determined, have been addressed.
This is a Full planning application for the spine road. There is no Construction Traffic Management Plan, there is no Traffic Management Plan, there are no indicated planning conditions that determine how the work will be carried out, how it will be monitored, or a process for dealing with breaches or complaints. To grant full planning permission for the spine road in these circumstances would be reckless, especially as, again, all expert evidence indicates that the wrong option has been chosen.
There are numerous points that can be raised regarding the outline application.
LTC are very concerned about yet more warehousing being inflicted upon Lutterworth, especially as the Local Plan itself states that there is no commercial justification for the additional warehouses, and that they are included in order to generate revenue to pay for the motorway junction improvements. Those improvements are not necessary for the provision of the Lutterworth East SDA unless the development significantly increases the traffic in the area, a fact that nobody will openly admit to. However, the requirement for these improvements to be made has been placed on the development by Leicestershire County Council themselves, the very people that are developing the warehouses.
Concern is also evident regarding the provision of medical services. The Local Plan indicated a new doctor’s surgery within the SDA itself, however it now appears that the circa 8,000 new residents will have to rely on expanded services in Lutterworth, and Lutterworth will have to cope with the additional traffic and demand.
Finally, Lutterworth Town Council is to say the least disappointed in the Section 106 agreement that has been negotiated by Harborough District Council. Nearly £17m has been directed towards the redevelopment of the Whittle junction – a junction that had a recent capacity increase at a cost of £1m, and that isn’t going to reach capacity until after 2036 according to the Planning Committee Document. Further, there is provision of over £900,000 for a local rugby club and over £500,000 for local cricket clubs. However, the Lutterworth Town Centre masterplan which is intended to re-vitalise the town and help allow it to accommodate the increase in residents receives less that £179,000. To be clear, the expected cost of the Town Centre Masterplan is around £4m – there are seven elements within the masterplan, and the £179k would cover about 50% of the cheapest single element.
a. There are serious questions about the compliance of this application to the Local Plan. In many cases these issues can be resolved by the adoption of spine road Option 1 rather than the presented Option 4. If this happened, the development would be more acceptable to the locality, would bring greater benefit to the locality in terms of air quality, noise reduction and improvements in Lutterworth town centre, and would do so without impacting the new development.
b. The opinions of experts have largely been ignored, especially in relation to the impacts of the proposed spine road routing. We cannot have a situation whereby such a large development is carried through without taking heed and following the advice of experts. The result will be a sub optimal development that leaves the locality with significant, unresolvable problems in the future.
c. Air Quality is a significant issue in the area. There is an opportunity for a holistic approach to be taken that resolves an AQMA that has been in existence for 20 years, benefits thousands of current and future residents, and does not place the burden on the new development. Instead, the applicant is heading towards the creation of a second AQMA.
d. The chosen spine road option is not the best option for air quality and noise – this is accepted by the officers and clearly stated in the report. There is an opportunity to improve the lives of thousands of people by choosing the right spine road option, yet LCC are refusing to benefit residents.
e. The full application for the spine road is at best woefully incomplete in terms of detail, management plans and control processes. Other than a cursory map indicating its proposed routing, there is little that a planning committee could point to that could be called a detailed plan. An application to build a house would require more detail regarding construction and conditions than has been provided for the spine road. The proposal is for a scheme lasting over 10 years, and yet there is not one commitment regarding construction traffic management, public traffic management, hours of work, work processes, or anything that could (and might need to) be enforced.
We ask that the committee do the right thing for the locality and stop this application based on the spine road routing alone. Re-submission using Option 1 would remove all major objections and would enable compliance with Law and Local Plan.
Further, we ask that Members require a detailed Construction Traffic Management Plan to be submitted prior to any further application for construction of the spine road, and that Lutterworth Town Council are party to that agreement process. Finally, that there is an agreed process for raising issues with the applicant once any construction has commenced, in order that local resident issues that may materialise can be represented in a formal manner.
Leicestershire County Council, along with Harborough District Council, have an opportunity to use the money that will be spent on the development to substantially increase the benefit that it delivers by re-routing the spine road and relieving Lutterworth town centre of heavy traffic WITHOUT moving that traffic in to the centre of the new development. In doing so, they would be able to produce their desired development; they would be able to remove an AQMA in Lutterworth; they will reduce noise levels; they will improve the public realm within the centre of Lutterworth (a Local Plan requirement); they will improve the pedestrian crossing experience over High Street; and they will enable the progression of the Lutterworth Town Centre masterplan. Lutterworth is part of Leicestershire – all we are asking is that the District Council and County Council do what is best for their residents in the wider context.
The opportunity to do the right thing for all residents exists now – if it is ignored, the opportunity is lost forever.