Simon Galton

Liberal Democrat County & District Councillor Learn more

Update on major planning applications in Scraptoft, Thurnby and Bushby

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: 

  • Land off Pulford Drive, Scraptoft and Thurnby – 250 dwellings on two fields either side of the Thurnby Brook submitted by Jelsons in May 2010. The site is on land designated as a Separation Area in the existing local plan and the policy is proposed to be carried forward in the new LDF Core Strategy Development Plan referred to above. Consideration of this application was delayed over the summer when the County Council archaeologist requested trial trenching on the site as their records show there could be ancient remains. Serious concerns have been expressed by local people about flooding and drainage and the Environment Agency has advised HDC that a survey of the brook should be carried out prior to any development taking place and the rate of surface water run off into the brook should not be allowed to increase.   
  • Land east of Station Lane, Scraptoft – 100 dwellings to the rear of properties on Station Lane and Leybury Way with a single new access off  Station Lane. This application was submitted by Davidsons in August and the site is also designated as Separation Area. Similar concerns have been expressed about land drainage and I have written the Council’s drainage engineer asking for an investigation into the condition of the watercourse to the rear of the houses in Leybury Way and Padgate Close. The developer is proposing to store the surface water from the new houses in a pond and release it into this watercourse which in my opinion is little more than a ditch. Trial trenching has been undertaken on this site and a report sent to the County planning archaeologist. 
  • Former De Montfort University Playing Fields, off Beeby Road– 215 dwellings submitted by DMU. This site would effectively extend the David Wilson Homes estate off Covert Lane currently under construction. It would be served by two accesses, one off Elliott’s End and the other by a new junction onto Beeby Road. This site is outside the village boundary known as the “limits to development” and its current planning use is a sports ground. The University’s planning agent claims this is not relevant because the site has been out of use for more than 5 years and is not allocated for use as a playing field in a development plan.  However, the Government’s advisor on sport and recreation (Sport England) has written to the Council formally objecting to the proposal on the grounds it would result in the loss of useable sports facilities. The Council’s emerging Core Strategy also proposes to protect playing fields from development and recognises the future potential of facilities currently out of use.  

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: 

  • Land east of Wadkins Sports Ground, Bushby including the Charity Farm site – approx. 150 dwellings with a new access onto the A47.  
  • Land to the rear of existing properties on the south side of the A47, Bushby – approx. 100 dwellings with a new access onto the A47.  *****Stop Press**** Harborough District Council has just received the application on land to the south of the A47, Bushby. It is currently being validated and more information will be posted on this website as soon as it is available. 

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