Tuesday, 26 March 2013

NWLDC's Core Strategy must be approved

Tonight North West Leicestershire District Council will consider a number of significant, and hopefully final, changes to it's proposed Core Strategy - a planning policy document which sets out the authorities strategic direction until 2031.

The Core Strategy is a massive document, quite possibly the biggest the Council will ever consider, and deserves a great deal of consideration.

For many reasons there is much that is worrying about the Core Strategy.

Councillors are being asked to approve a document which allows for thousands of new houses to be built in Coalville but provides no guarantee, or expectation for that matter, of a Bardon relief road.

We are being asked to consider additional housing in Ashby which, in all likelihood, due to environmental issues surrounding the River Mease will necessitate the introduction of 21st century cesspits.

We are being asked to approve a concept of building 440 homes in Measham which if all goes to plan will see HS2 plough right through them.

You could therefore rightly ask why would anyone approve a policy with so many shortcomings?

The answer is two-fold.

Firstly, the Core Strategy must be looked at as a whole.

Secondly, time is of the essence.

The Core Strategy, to me, is very much like a football match. Not every pass will be completed, not every shot will be scored. But the aim is to come out with an overall win.

Despite some drawbacks there is much to be said in favour of the Core Strategy.

It is good to show that North West Leicestershire is open for business through the identification of 164 acres of new employment land and showing support for a strategic rail freight interchange which will provide for 6,000 jobs.

It is good to see an onus on town centre regeneration which will seek to make all of our towns, but most notably Coalville, better places to live.

It is good to support a strategy which places a priority on sustainable travel, including better cycle facilities and calling for the reintroduction of a National Forest railway line.

Most importantly it is imperative that the district council has a plan where to put houses in our district. Not to do so will leave the district open to planning applications virtually anywhere in North West Leicestershire.

That is why time is of the essence.

My own ward of Thringstone, which incorporates parts of Whitwick, would be directly affected by planning applications to build on our precious Green Wedge.

Not to approve the Core Strategy will give a green light to developers to apply to build on land we want to see protected.

And that is the biggest asset of the strategy.

There are significant and valid differences of opinion as to what type of development is acceptable in North West Leicestershire, matters I feel certain will be revisited over the next 18 years, but the bigger advantage is making clear to developers what is not.

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