BABTAG Comments on the discussion paper “Towards a New Local Plan”

1. For the villages of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe and the eastern edge of Thurmaston none of the options for locating the houses purported to be needed by 2036 is in anyway attractive. The villages face a future of encroaching housing estates which will downgrade the rural nature of the community, deal a blow to the farming community, add to congestion on local roads and put pressure on local services.
2. In the many meetings with planners and Charnwood councillors over the existing Local Plan the huge housing scheme of the North East of Leicester SUE was sold to local residents on the premise that the green fields around their villages would be spared piecemeal development. The expectation was that the planners and the council would reject opportunistic planning applications because the SUE would meet local housing needs. This ‘contract’ has already been broken with permissions for hundreds of houses being granted in nearby Queniborough since the adoption of the current Local Plan and appears to have been forgotten in the thrust of the new Local Plan particularly with regard to the inclusion of the SHLAA options of PHS7 (land west of Barkby 111 houses) PSH8 (land east of Barkby 690 houses) and PSH 69 (land SE of Syston (1200 house). Should any of these options be adopted in the Local Plan BABTAG will regard their inclusion as a breach of trust between the council and the local community.
3. Option 5 and 6 of the discussion paper’s so-called ‘reasonable development strategy options’ propose concentrating development in four new stand-alone settlement areas in Charnwood, one of which may well be the 690 houses either side of Holt Lane (PSH8 land east of Barkby). If indeed this land has been identified as one of the four new settlements BABTAG vehemently opposes it. The intrusion of a large new urban settlement on a ridge visible for miles would degrade the landscape of this quiet rural area. Moreover the traffic generated by its up to 2000 residents would add to congestion of traffic through Barkby as the only obvious access would be via Holt Lane to the Beeby Road.
4. A more positive aspect of the discussion paper are the proposals for amending areas of separation and green wedges. However, it seems a contradiction to be considering some of these very sites for new housing. The council cannot have its cake and eat it. BABTAG strongly supports retaining and enhancing all the areas of separation that maintain the integrity of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe as villages surrounded by countryside.
5. The discussion paper claims that it has taken into account the Leicester and Leicestershire Strategic Growth Plan but beyond this mention it is silent about the SGP. Seeing that the new A46 expressway will cut a swathe through the district’s countryside as it skirts Syston, Barkby, Beeby and Keyham on its way south this omission is extraordinary as the four lane highway’s impact on the landscape, the environment and the rural nature of these villages will be immense. And this is before any consideration of the proportion of the 40,000 new homes along its route that will fall within Charnwood.
6. The discussion paper is honest that there is as yet no agreed methodology for predicting population growth but then nearly doubles the doubtful number of houses (8100) needed to 15700 in case building delays cause a shortfall. BABTAG asks whether the despoiling of the landscape, the destruction of our countryside, the damage to our villages and the congestion of our roads should be permitted on such questionable premises.
Owen Bentley
Chairman BABTAG
0116 269 2847 and 0788 788 1733