Charnwood Borough council
Planning for Growth: Core Strategy Supplementary Consultation
The consultation clearly sets out the context for the options that are to be considered. County Council officers welcome the focus on the residual housing requirement, avoiding reopening debate on the preferred options for the remaining housing distribution in the Borough.
It is noted that the overall capacity within the SUEs has been reduced and that the timescales for their delivery extended. Maximising the delivery of housing growth through the SUEs will be a key opportunity to minimise the residual that needs to be identified.
The need to progress the Core Strategy to adoption as soon as possible in the context of the National Planning Policy Framework and the transitional arrangements set out therein is fully understood. In this context this supplementary consultation document is welcomed. It is considered, however, that the Borough Council’s intention to progress directly to a Pre-submission version of the Core Strategy, without formally consulting on Preferred Options, is an approach that does carry some risks. There is particular concern that LCC will not be able to consider a full preferred option for residual housing development in the Borough in advance of the Pre-Submission consultation. There will, therefore, be no formal stage at which the County Council will be able to comment on whether the most suitable option has been proposed, only whether the option proposed is ‘sound’. In order to mitigate and minimise the risks associated with this approach the Borough Council is urged to maintain open and ongoing discussions with the County Council as a statutory consultee and as a service provider; including in relation to transport, education, public health and as Lead Local Flood Authority.
The options set out in the consultation vary in how prescriptive they are with regards to locations and numbers of houses. Section 3 consultation presents a number of options (E, F and G) that would not give the required clarity to LCC as a service provider, the community or the development industry. It is necessary that the preferred options chosen do provide sufficient clarity for all involved and avoid ‘the development through planning applications’ scenario as described in paragraphs 4.12 – 4.13.
Each of the residual housing options proposes a significant amount of employment land as part of the allocation. The need to co-locate employment with large scale housing development is supported, but it is questioned whether some of the smaller housing options could be separated from employment development, and whether this could be considered separately to seek to maximise housing land available and minimise the residual to be found. The County Council is aware that the Borough Council is awaiting further evidence on the employment land requirements and that this will be used to inform the final development of this policy.
LCC Education Comments
LCC Education will be providing comments directly to Charnwood Borough Council in relation to the options set out in this consultation.
LCC Highway Authority Comments
- Highway authority comments have been informed by the transport modelling work that has so far been carried outas part of work to help develop Charnwood's Core Strategy. The modelling work done to date has tested the 4 development scenarios shown in Appendix A (housing and employment land figures as supplied by Charnwood Borough Council).
- The modelling work has tested a number of the options that Charnwood are consulting on in order to meet their housing shortfall. Note, however, that none of these have been tested in isolation, which makes it more difficult to comment in detail on some of the particular options.
- Further transport modelling work will be carried out to test Charnwood's preferred development strategy once they have identified what this is. As a result, a number of these comments are preliminary and do not necessarily constitute the final formal highway authority position.
Options for South Charnwood
Option 1: North of Birstall
- Preliminary modelling work indicates that further significant growth at Birstall may result in such potentially significant and wide ranging strategic impacts on the highway network that they are unacceptable to the county highway authority. Detailed comments on the outcomes of the modelling work in relation to growth at Birstall are included in Appendix B. We have made these concerns about potential development at Birstall known to officers at Charnwood.
Option 2: North of Birstall and North of Glenfield
- Re Birstall, see comments on Option 1 above (and in Appendix B). From the modelling work done to date it has not been possible to assess whatpotential impact a 500 dwelling site at Glenfield may have, given that this has been tested alongside bigger and more strategic developments at Birstall and Syston, as well as500 dwellings at Anstey.
Option 3: North of Glenfield and South & East of Syston
- The results of modelling work undertaken to date appear to demonstrate that it may not be possible or practical to mitigate the impacts of a development scenario that includes 1500 dwellings at Syston, an SUE at Thurmaston and the proposed employment development at Watermead. In the modelling work undertaken so far we have tested scenarios that include 750 dwellings at Syston and 1500 dwellings at Syston. The mitigation measures tested (including a bypass around the edge of Syston) for the development scenario that includes 1500 dwellings at Syston increase the severity of development induced congestion.
- Again, we have made our concerns known to officers at Charnwood about proposals to provide a larger / more strategic scale of development at Syston.
Option 4: South and East of Syston:
- See comments above re Option 3.
Options for North Charnwood
- The work that we have undertaken to date does not rule out the delivery of a development strategy that includes any of Options A-D. We have always, in principle, supported the provision of growth in and around Loughborough and nothing in the current work is causing us to change our minds on this.
- However, detailed discussions will be required with officers at Charnwood about what will need to be done in transportation terms to make development in the Loughborough / Shepshed area work (this is likely to involve significant mitigation) and we expect to see these transportation issues addressed through the Core Strategy.
- In the longer-term, we are of the view that there still appears to be a strong case for growth to the east of Loughborough given that this is an area in need of regeneration. There is the potential for development in this area to fund some of the infrastructure requirements needed to facilitate regeneration but this may require more than the 800 houses currently being proposed. In the current circumstances, an east of Loughborough option appears to be more appropriate for consideration in a future development plan.
- Weare not supportive of these options and are of the view that the Core Strategy should specify a direction of growth for the housing shortfall. Clarity is required in order to aid infrastructure planning.
Options for the Service Centres
- Options 1-3: We support Option 3 (specify the amount of housing development to be delivered in each Service Centre (to meet the overall amount), basedup on the Charnwood ServiceCentre Capacity Assessment 2011 and other evidence).This will help provide clarity to aid infrastructure planning.
Option 1: North of Birstall
- There is a concern across all the development scenarios tested to date that the various mitigation measures seem to be discouraging the use of the A6 between Loughborough and its junction with the A46 (north of Birstall).
- Our view is that the impact of growth at Birstall (tested in 3 of the 4 development scenarios with either 2000 or 1500 dwellings) and its proposed mitigation is likely to be one of the fundamental reasons for this and is likely to be having some negative impacts on use of the A6 / A46 and surrounding, more local, routes.
- The model seems to be showing that with the mitigation measures tested, Birstall development traffic is more able to get onto the A46 and A6, and the model is affording this traffic priority over existing traffic on the network or traffic from other potential development sites. Existing traffic and other development traffic therefore appears to be forced to take different, less appropriate, routes through the Soar Valley and across the Charnwood Forest because the model is forecasting that these are quicker routes.
- Similarly, there is a concern that in all development scenarios there appears to be less traffic using the A46 Leicester Western Bypass in comparison with the 2031 reference case (2031 with no core strategy development). We are assuming that this is because the model is forecasting that traffic cannot get to the route in the first place (because of congestion caused by Birstall development traffic on roads leading to the route) orbecause of traffic taking different routes (similar to use of the A6).
- In terms of traffic going into central areas of Leicester, only a relatively small amount of traffic is forecast to take the longer route via Thurmaston and Belgrave (Golden Mile) to reach central Leicester (when compared to using the A6 through Birstall and along Abbey Lane). This suggests that the capacity of the A6 south of the A46 Leicester Western Bypass junction is not necessarily the key determining factor in terms of accommodating growth, rather it is probably the A46 / A6 junction (thus backing up points 1 - 4 above). However, this is not to imply that mitigation measures will not be required on the A6 south of the A46 junction, dependent on the eventual development strategy chosen.
- The Birstall mitigation measures tested via the modelling work do not appear to 'work' in terms of relieving the A6 / A46 junction given that it appears to forecast that itis quicker for other traffic to take the longer, less direct routes through Birstall, the Soar Valley villages and over the Forest. The prospects of carrying our further significantchanges to the A6 / A46 junction (beyond what was tested in the modelling work) in its current configuration appear limited and, as was concluded with previous work, it is possible that it would require further grade separation. This, however, would be expensive and may well be environmentally / visually unacceptable given the location of the junction at the top of a hill.