A PLAN setting out how Leicester and Leicestershire will grow in the future is set to be agreed by local partners.
The Strategic Growth Plan has been developed by a partnership made up of 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 future development, including housing provision, that will be needed to support population change, meet housing needs and support economic growth from now until 2050.
Following public consultation, a revised plan has been agreed by a members’ advisory group representing all the partners. It will now be used to help shape the Local Plans that the city, borough and district councils are preparing or reviewing.
It will also be used to support bids for Government funding to deliver the infrastructure needed to support growth.
People were invited to comment on the plan by taking part in a county-wide consultation, which ran from 11 January until 10 May 2018. In total, 588 responses were received, 79 per cent of which were from members of the public, with others received from local businesses, developers, landowners, voluntary groups and stakeholders such as parish councils, the police and health.
The comments received were analysed and considered during the preparation of the revised Strategic Growth Plan, which is what is now being put forward.
The plan estimates that Leicester and Leicestershire needs 96,580 new homes and 367-423 hectares of employment land from 2011-2031. These homes have already been built, have planning permission, or are already allocated to be built in adopted or emerging Local Plans.
Beyond 2031, the plan identifies the need for a further 90,500 dwellings and additional employment land. Local Plans will deal with the detailed allocation of which sites will be brought forward for potential development.
Major infrastructure improvements would also be needed to allow for new growth. These include a new link road – the A46 Expressway – to the south and east of Leicester, connecting strategic highways to the west of the city with the M1 and A46 to the north-east. No decisions have yet been made about the exact route of this road, which would be subject to extensive further consultation before going ahead.
The A5 and A42 would also be upgraded to expressway status, supporting growth in these areas. Rail improvements are proposed, too, to provide improved connections to Coventry and Birmingham.
These road and rail improvements would require significant Government investment and would relieve congestion pressures along the M1 and more widely across the Midlands.
Key areas for potential growth are the city of Leicester and the corridor of land around the proposed new road. A secondary area for growth is identified in the north of the county – there would be a ‘Leicestershire international gateway’ close to East Midlands Airport and major employers in the area.
However, plans for a ‘southern gateway’, close to Magna Park, have been dropped after feedback from the consultation. Instead, the focus will be on the A5 corridor, where improvements to the A5 will support growth.
Growth and regeneration is also proposed for Melton, where it would support transport improvements and relieve congestion in the town.
Cllr Eric Vardy, lead member for planning at Charnwood Borough Council, said: “We’re pleased the strategic growth plan is continuing to take shape and the draft strategy is due to be considered by Charnwood’s Cabinet in October.
“It’s an important document because we need to plan ahead and make sure development not only occurs in the most sustainable places but also brings the infrastructure and investment our communities need.
“On a local level it’s important to note that Charnwood is planning to accommodate its own growth and many of the homes in the strategy have already been accounted for.”
Trevor Pendleton, chair of the Strategic Growth Plan Members’ Advisory Group, said: “It’s extremely positive that 10 local partners have joined together to formulate and agree on a long-term plan for our city and county’s future. We need to work to together to manage development, focusing it in key areas, so that our city and county can grow and prosper.
“This plan will also help us bid for national funding, which is essential to get the sort of infrastructure improvements that will help to ease congestion and drive growth.
“The plan will influence more locally-made decisions on planning and development. It gives more control over planning matters back to local authorities and will inform the Local Plans that each authority develops, which set out in more detail how they will allow and encourage future growth.
“We know that some of these proposals are controversial. They are not easy decisions. But we need to be strategic about how we manage future growth so that it is focused, sustainable and of benefit to the people who live and work here.”
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The future prosperity of our city and county is a key priority for all the partners who have shaped this plan. Thinking ahead is vital to ensure we get the best possible deal for Leicester and Leicestershire, particularly when it comes to getting funding for infrastructure improvements.
“We are all committed to protecting the environment and heritage that make our city, county and market towns so special. We also have ambitious plans and a strong shared vision to ensure that we get the best possible deal for Leicester and Leicestershire. Together, our voice is stronger.”
Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: “I really welcome the production of the plan, it makes the area a real trailblazer in terms of the rest of the country.
“From our perspective, there’s now a long-term vision which helps us to better plan for the future. That’s particularly important in bidding for Government funding towards the transport infrastructure needed to support further growth.”
The Strategic Growth Plan will now be considered by the local councils which developed it, with the aim of having the plan approved by mid-December.
To find out more about the plan, visit the website at llstrategicgrowthplan.org.uk