Planning Application To Be Heard
Good morning all,
I hope that you are all well and staying safe during the current crisis.
The time has come, I am afraid, to confirm what you probably already know from social media, and that is that the planning application for Lutterworth East is to be heard on Tuesday 21st April (this Tuesday) at 6:30pm. While all other council meetings have been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Leicestershire County Council insisted that this meeting, which had been scheduled prior to the current problems, goes ahead. HDC received guidance from central government that meetings could take place via the internet, and had little option to agree because, had they refused, LCC could have claimed "non-determination" and the application would have been taken out of HDC's hands.
So, has anything changed? No. the plans that have been submitted pay no attention whatsoever to any of the objections that have been raised. The spine road will still plough through the development, rather than being routed alongside the M1 with the potential to relieve traffic from Lutterworth. The 2,750 houses will still be built between now and 2036. While a doctors surgery is in the plans, there is little certainty that it will ever materialise as the intention seems to be that they will expand the existing buildings on Gilmorton Road, bringing more traffic in to Lutterworth, but not via Gilmorton Road as the plans indicate that this will be closed to everything other than buses or bikes. The two schools are in the plans, one of which will be built right next to the spine road. HDC's commitment to minimise or remove HGV's from the centre of Lutterworth is not being addressed as they want to wait and see what impact the spine road has on traffic. While you can understand this, it means that if the wrong spine road option is chosen now HDC have limited ways of directing HGVs away from Lutterworth. As a result, you can guarantee that nothing will be done in the future, and the initiative will be lost in the next Local Plan. To be clear, the spine road option included in the plans IS the wrong option - if it is used to relieve Lutterworth then all that will happen is that the problem will transfer to the new development.
Opposition? Well Historic England, HDC experts, LCC experts, two independent reports and well over 140 objections have all pointed out the issues regarding the spine road route, yet the applicant (LCC) and the HDC planning officers have ignored all of this and are ploughing on regardless. As for Alberto Costa, I have been trying to get a meeting with him for over a year, to no avail. We did get a glimmer of hope in February, but were told that we could only speak to his aides. Once we had done that we were afforded a meeting with him (to last no more than 30 minutes) which was then cancelled. We were told that, as both HDC and LCC were Conservative Councils, politically it was very difficult for him to object. When I did my Politics Degree, we were told that MP's are elected to represent their constituents, not Local Councils. How things seem to have changed over the last 40 years!
At the meeting on Tuesday, only three people are allowed to speak against the plans, and three people for the plans. District Councillors and MP's are in addition to this, however while I know that Martin Sarfas and Paul Beadle intend to speak, I'm not sure that Lutterworth will get support from anywhere else, other than possibly Broughton Astley. Lutterworth Town Council is allowed one speaker only, and we are limited to 3 minutes. Democracy in action indeed! I will be speaking on behalf of Lutterworth Town Council. The public are allowed to attend planning meetings, and as this is a "virtual" meeting you can watch it on line through the HDC website. The link to the meeting that they have provided is here along with the meeting agenda and planning documents. The video link obviously won't be live until Tuesday evening, but you can see the documents now. Speakers will make their points over the phone.
It is indeed a sad state of affairs that we are at this stage. The housing development is virtually unstoppable, however the spine road routing could be used to help the new development and the area, however an intransigent County Council and I have to say an unhelpful District Council will not listen to the locals who will suffer the impacts for years and years to come. Worse, there isn't even a detailed Construction Traffic Management Plan within the application to allow construction traffic to be controlled!
If the plans are passed, the building of the spine road will commence either later this year or early next and will last for about 3 years. The houses will start in early 2021 and continue until 2036 or possibly later. So, anyone having a child this year will have building works going on during their entire years of education.
And just to make sure that we are all aware - despite the fact that LCC recently failed to get £35m from the government to help pay for the spine road, they will go ahead anyway and attempt to get funding from other areas. If they fail, then they will put the money in themselves, so this will not stop the process.
We will see what happens on Tuesday - miracles do happen (the last one in 2016!!!) so we must keep smiling!
I'll let you know the result after Tuesday!