People are being asked to have their say on a plan setting out how Leicester and Leicestershire will grow in the future.
A draft Strategic Growth Plan is being developed by a partnership formed by Leicester City and Leicestershire County councils, the seven local borough and district authorities and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP).
It puts forward proposals for the new housing and transport improvements that would be needed to attract jobs and investment to Leicester and Leicestershire from now until 2050.
The final version of the plan will provide strategic direction and help shape the Local Plans that the city, borough and district councils are or will be preparing or reviewing.
It will also be used to support bids for Government funding to deliver the infrastructure needed to support growth.
Now, people are invited to comment on the plan by taking part in a county-wide consultation, which runs from 11 January until 5 April 2018.
The plan estimates that Leicester and Leicestershire needs 96,580 new homes and 367-423 hectares of employment land from 2011-2031. Some of these homes have already been built or have planning permission.
Beyond 2031, the plan identifies the need for a further 90,500 dwellings and additional employment land, which is why further land needs to be unlocked. Local Plans will deal with the detailed allocation of which sites will be brought forward.
Draft proposals put forward in the Strategic Growth Plan include major infrastructure improvements on which new growth is dependent. These include a new link road – the A46 Expressway – to the south and east of Leicester, running from the M69 and the M1 to the A46 north of the city.
The A5 and A42 would also be upgraded to expressway status, supporting growth in these areas. Rail improvements are also proposed.
These road and rail improvements would require significant Government investment and would relieve congestion pressures along the M1 and more widely across the Midlands. It would also potentially unlock land for the required housing and employment.
Key areas for potential growth are the city of Leicester and the corridor of land around the proposed new road. Secondary areas for growth are identified in the north and the south of the county – there would be a ‘northern gateway’ close to East Midlands Airport, and a ‘southern gateway’, close to Magna Park.
Growth is also proposed for Melton and Lutterworth, where it would support transport improvements and relieve congestion in the towns. New housing would be built closer to where people work, to minimise congestion from commuters.
Cllr Trevor Pendleton, chair of the Strategic Growth Plan Members’ Advisory Group, said: “This is a long-term overall plan for the city and county, looking at how we can best accommodate investment and growth. We need national funding, particularly for infrastructure, so that we can grow and prosper – this is why we need this plan.
“We’re asking people whether they agree with the priorities the Government is asking us to deliver, such as delivering new housing, focusing growth in key areas and identifying essential transport infrastructure that will be needed in the future.
“It’s important to stress that no decisions have yet been made, but we do have to plan ahead and identify areas for future growth, which would then be built into our Local Plans at the appropriate time.
“We know that some of these proposals will be controversial, but that’s why we’re having this consultation – to gather people’s views.”
Cllr Eric Vardy, Lead Member for Planning, said: “We have collaborated with our partners to help draw up the Strategic Growth Plan and we are now seeking views.
“By taking this strategic approach we can help make sure development takes place in the most sustainable places and secures the infrastructure our communities need such as roads, schools, open spaces and more.
“Charnwood is planning to accommodate its own growth and many homes in the strategy have already been accounted for. I would encourage people to look at the strategy and give us their views.”
Leicester City mayor Peter Soulsby said: “We have ambitious plans for our city and county, and we want to see them grow and prosper in the future.
“This plan is a chance for us to shape that growth, taking advantage of the opportunities it will bring while remembering our responsibilities to the local environment and existing built heritage.
“Leicester is a city that has grown not just in population but in confidence and pride over the past few years. And Leicestershire is a county benefitting from both proven economic success and great potential. We want to capitalise on these major strengths with our Strategic Growth Plan.”
To take part in the consultation, please see the strategic growth plan website or contact any of the local authorities or the LLEP. Local consultation events are also being planned. Details will be on the website.