HDC Housing Options – Kibworth Harcourt SDA could mean thousands of homes

Latest update – May 2017 (Still good news, for now!!)

HDC Executive met on 15th May for a Reassessment and agree the Preferred Option for the Draft Submission Local Plan. This is the section confirming why the Kibworth North and East option is no longer being seen as a viable Strategic Development Area for the draft Local Plan.

Option 5 (Kibworth North and East) performs third in terms of average ranking scores. Despite recently adding in more employment land, the potential SDA is still likely to result in longer journeys to work, although it would require at least some further high level traffic modelling for complete assurance. While solving traffic (and associated air quality) problems locally, it scores poorly in relation to strategic transport impacts, particularly in South East Leicester. Because Kibworth is an expanded village not offering the same range of existing facilities as Market Harborough (Option 2), Leicester City (Option 4) or Lutterworth (Option 6), this option is likely to result in more unsustainable travel by private car. It also has greater environmental impacts than the other SDA options because of its higher landscape quality and its proximity to a conservation area and listed buildings. It meets 8 Local Plan Objectives and fails in relation to 3. In strategic terms it adds more housing growth near to Market Harborough, rather than in the South West Leicestershire Growth Area, the M1 and A5 corridors and the Principal Urban Area.

September 2016 – Good news (for now!)

A first sight of the draft new HDC Local Plan housing options was published on Friday 9th September. This gave explanations of why the preferred strategic housing location should be the Lutterworth SDA on the eastern side of the M1 at junction 20.  In addition, in order to provide sufficient capacity, the Scraptoft site was chosen as a reserve location.  So for now, the 1600 house Kibworth SDA with relief road, as being promoted by Merton College and the Leicester Diocesan Board of Finance, is excluded from further consideration as a strategic housing option. The HDC Local Planning Executive Advisory Panel met on 19th September and ratified the officer recommendations.  These recommendations will now go to the HDC Executive meeting on 10th October, and then are due to be put to the full council in December.  Although this is good news in respect that the huge number of houses does not appear to be heading for the Kibworths, it does mean the plans for an A6 relief road/bypass are mothballed again.

The new Local Plan timetable includes further public consultation and a public inquiry before it is adopted – probably in 2018 now.  At any stage, the strategic housing options might be changed depending on further detailed assessments.  The Kibworth Neighbourhood Plan is due to be recommended for public consultation and stakeholder engagement at the end of September, with a likely referendum by mid 2017.

A private meeting was held in August with Highways & District officers and local members to look at the potential cumulative impact on traffic flows, particularly the A6, of planned or expected large site applications in Fleckney, Great Glen and the Kibworths.  Work is scheduled to be completed by late October, but will have a direct influence on the response from LCC Highways to large housing applications.

July 2016 update

On 20 July, Merton College held an event in the Kibworth Grammar School Hall to gather opinion and comments from the public about their proposals for a 1600 house Strategic Development area north-east of Kibworth Harcourt.  As was made clear on one of their boards at the event, provided at my insistence because Harborough District Council did not send one of their planning officers using this excuse as to why:

The main reason for this is that it would create the impression that these proposals had the support of the Council when it is only one of four options being investigated. The event has clearly been promoted outside our own consultation procedures and we are not seeking public views at this point.

I have attached a pdf copy of the Merton College display boards at yesterday’s event for your interest. It is in two parts so each file is less than 2Mb in size.

G 160717 Final Consultation Boards LR sm2

G 160717 Final Consultation Boards LR pics2

For now, the four strategic housing options (see HDC Executive decision below) are being subjected to further tests of land availability, infrastructure requirements, transport impact, flood risk, viability, landscape impact, environmental sensitivity / mitigation and sustainability.  Results from these will be used to complete a matrix using a ‘traffic light’ score (Red, Amber, Green) against each option, based on an assessment of the results of the various evidence items.  My focus, together with other elected colleagues, is to ensure the Kibworth SDA is scored fairly and, based on comments received yesterday from the majority of people objecting to the Kibworth SDA proposal, with plenty of RED scores !

Three more things for now

  1. This is the first bulletin (emailed using the details provided by attendees either at the event, or because they are a member of one of the Kibworth parish councils or the Kibworth Neighbourhood Plan Group or may be interested – 98 email addresses & 4 mobile numbers so far).
  2. If you know of other people who may be interested in receiving these information bulletins by email, then please get their permission and ask them to let me have their contact details. All contact details will be held confidentially and only used for the purposes of distributing information about the Kibworth SDA.
  3. Finally, the latest information is that a recommendation by HDC planning officers may be made to elected members on which of the 4 options, or a hybrid, could be taken forward may be as soon as 22nd August (i.e. less than 5 weeks)

HDC Executive Decision – 9 May 2016

The Harborough District Council Executive, at their meeting on 9 May 2016 agreed with the recommendations from the Local Plan Executive Advisory Panel which had met, with this item exempted, on 13 April.

  • Option 2: Core Strategy Distribution;
  • Option 5: Kibworth SDA (North East of Kibworth Harcourt proposal only);
  • Option 6: Lutterworth SDA;
  • and a variation of Option 4: Scraptoft / Thurnby, but based on a minimum of 1,200 dwellings in the vicinity of Scraptoft North.

Also the Executive agreed that these Selected Options be subject to further tests of land availability, infrastructure requirements, transport impact, flood risk, viability, landscape impact, environmental sensitivity/ mitigation and sustainability before being reported back with a recommendation for a single preferred option.

KibworthSDA (diagram courtesy of Hands Off Kibworth Facebook page)

HDC officers decided that the Kibworth SDA Option does not perform poorly on any factor. Of the two Kibworth SDA proposals, it was considered that the North and East scheme offered clear advantages because it delivered a by-pass (albeit that the design and capacity of this needs further investigation, and it looks more like a relief road), as well as the potential for associated benefits for the centre of the village. It will also perform well in terms of viability, while the North and West of Kibworth scheme would have no beneficial traffic effects and not be viable against Threshold Land Value (although it is viable against Residual Land Value). While the Highway Authority has identified possible knock-on traffic impacts of a Kibworth SDA further along the A6 in Leicester, it is not possible to be certain about these without further traffic modelling. Although this option has infrastructure issues in relation to the secondary school and waste & water treatment at Kibworth, together with flooding issues in Market Harborough, south east Kibworth and Fleckney, it performs adequately and better than a Lutterworth SDA in relation to Local Plan objectives. It would also be difficult to justify to an Inspector the rejection of the Kibworth North East option at this stage based on the evidence currently available. This scheme came fourth in Members’ individual voting and group discussion.

No specific numbers of houses have been offered by HDC.  Although the original Housing options consultation mentioned 1,200 for the Kibworth SDA, it is unclear whether this number of houses would be sufficient to construct a relief road, include a 2 form entry primary school and a community hub. It is therefore likely that a higher number of 1,500 to 2,000 houses will be necessary to provide the necessary level of funding depending on the % affordable housing requirement from HDC.  Merton College produced an indicative Masterplan in October 2015 with 1,500 houses, which mentions that by 2035 expected traffic volumes on the A6 could exceed 27,000 a day. For now, we are also told that all the houses will need to be constructed and sold before the relief road is completed.  This would put an enormous strain on the two Kibworths and A6 congestion.  My own view, if this option becomes the final decision by HDC elected members later this year, is that the relief road should be completed before the first house is sold.  Bedford Borough Council have done this for their new £18.6m western relief road, so why cannot HDC?

So for now, all four options are being checked against the criteria described above.  Leicestershire County Council Highways officers have already had a meeting with Merton College representatives to look at the traffic modelling for not just the A6, but also the side roads, and the effect of extra traffic along the A6 into Oadby and Leicester.

Once further information is available I will post it here and on my Twitter social media account: @kevin_feltham

KNPG meeting with Developer

Merton College/Andrew Granger representatives (landowners) met with Neighbourhood Plan Developer Liaison group members in 2015 and confirmed they are looking for at least 1,500 houses for their locations north and east of the A6 (Kibworth Harcourt) in order to finance a single carriageway A6 relief road.  Further communication with HDC and consultants has indicated this number of houses could rise to 1,700.  It has also been confirmed by Merton College that a proportion of the houses would need to be constructed and sold before construction on the relief road could be started.

Meeting on 19th November 2014

At a well attended meeting on Wednesday 19th November 2014, residents of the two Kibworth villages were told that there is no government or council capital money for building a bypass, but developer contributions from a few thousand homes could provide for a new road and essential extra facilities.

The two Kibworth Parish Councils held a joint meeting for the public on 19 November at the Kibworth High School. Guest speakers were Phil Crossland, County Council Director of Environment and Transport, followed by Tess Nelson, Principal Planning Officer, and Matthew Bills, Neighbourhood and Green Space Officer, both of Harborough District Council. Phil covered the background to previous A6 bypass projects and the dubious funding of such infrastructure by central Government, local councils or the Enterprise Partnership for the foreseeable future. Tess explained the current revision of policies in the Core Strategy and the timescale for a new Local Plan. Matt talked about the benefits of a Neighbourhood Plan.

Kevin Feltham, County Councillor for the Kibworth area, said “The A6 through the Kibworths is very busy with tens of thousands of vehicles each day, many of them heavy (Recent survey in November 2014 by LCC Highways indicates an average of 20,000 vehicles per day: maximum: 24,010, minimum: 19,719). At most times it is really difficult trying to join or cross the A6, from either Kibworth Harcourt or Kibworth Beauchamp.

“I, along with others, have been asking about a relief road or bypass for many years, following the cancellation of the last Highways Agency plans in the mid 1990s, but the business case has never met the strict criteria. Now we are told that with no likelihood of central government or local funding, we’re only likely to get a bypass if we accept a thousand or more new homes.

The two villages have now embarked on a joint Neighbourhood Plan process, and this will be the ideal opportunity to reserve a possible bypass route in consultation with local people, as well as gauging the appetite for loads more homes to pay for any new road.”

Kevin Feltham concludes “The Kibworths are an extremely attractive place to live, so developers are jostling to identify possible sites especially while the district council does not have a 5 year supply of housing. I would hate to see the Kibworths have to bear the brunt of thousands of new homes without the infrastructure to go along with them, like another primary school, more shops, plus improved health and community facilities.”

Subsequent to the meeting, Phil Crossland’s team have calculated the approximate cost of a 10m wide carriageway bypass with bridges over Carlton and Langton Roads at around £29m, with £2m required to do the research and consultation in order to confirm these figures.