by simongalton on 9 December, 2010
With three major planning applications pending for 565 dwellings and the prospect of two more in the next few weeks, many people are asking why developers are targeting the Thurnby, Bushby and Scraptoft area. There is probably no single answer to this question and a check of large applications submitted throughout Leicestershire shows other districts are facing similar proposals. One factor is that most district councils are currently preparing their Local Development Frameworks (LDFs) which will set out the amount of housing to take place and the broad locations during the period up to 2026. A senior planning officer has likened the situation to a beauty contest with developers rushing to get their plans submitted before councils adopt their development plans which will hopefully provide certainty on what will and won’t be allowed over the next 15 years. This is as long as Government appointed Planning Inspectors stand by decisions made by council planning committees when they refuse applications as being contrary to the policies in the development plan. For more information on what the Harborough LDF Core Strategy says about Scraptoft, Thurnby and Bushby, see the article headed ‘Consultation on Core Strategy Development Plan’ below. Another significant factor is something called the 5 year land supply. Although the Government has promised major planning reforms to return decision making powers to local councils (the Localism Bill is expected shortly), one issue which apparently won’t change is the requirement for councils to have a continuous supply of land available for building 5 years ahead. Councils which cannot demonstrate this are vulnerable to the type of speculative applications we have seen submitted in Harborough, Hinckley and Bosworth and Charnwood in recent months. Harborough currently has a small shortfall in its 5 year supply figure of about 180 dwellings and whilst this is well below the numbers currently pending in Thurnby and Scraptoft, the shortfall has no doubt influenced developers’ decisions on when to submit applications.
Current situation with pending applications As local residents are well aware, the three applications currently being processed by Harborough District Council (HDC) are:
A common factor between all three applications is the impact of additional traffic on the local road network. The County Council as Highway Authority is still considering its comments on the De Montfort site but has said that the three applications taken together would exceed the capacity of the Station Road/A47 junction. The highways engineer goes onto to state that anything above 350 “is likely to involve physical works. Therefore once the 350 limit has been reached the Highway Authority would seek to resist any further development.” It is possible that a developer could offer to undertake an improvement scheme but this would need to be funded by them and agreed with the Highways Authority. All three applications are still being processed by the district council and with Christmas and the holiday period fast approaching, it seems unlikely they will be considered by the planning committee before February 2011. Your local councillors are aware that many residents are anxious to know the date when decisions are due to be made and we have undertaken to inform residents affected by these applications as soon as the Council announces the date(s). Finally, I mentioned that two further applications are expected shortly. We understand that the schemes are being worked up by landowners who live locally. These are: