Out-Law News 2 min. read

Leicestershire council resolves to grant consent for 4,500-home urban extension

Charnwood Borough Council has resolved to grant outline planning permission for developer Commercial Estates Projects' (CEP) proposals to build 4,500 homes on farm land in Leicestershire, according to a report in Planning Magazine .

CEP submitted an application in 2012 seeking outline permission for the development of a sustainable urban extension (SUE) on 360 hectares of land to the north east of Leicester. The proposals included the provision of around 4,500 new homes; up to 13 hectares of employment land; two local centres; a district centre; a food store; school and healthcare facilities; parkland; allotments; and reserved land for a traveller site.

The proposed phasing plan would provide for the delivery of all stages by 2029, with the first phase of 575 homes and the initial stages of the proposed district centre to be completed within the first three years of development. A housing mix of one bed flats to four bedroom homes has been proposed, including 25% affordable housing provision and around 60 extra care flats.

The scheme was on the agenda for a meeting of the Council's plans committee last week, having been recommended for approval, subject to a section 106 agreement and referral to the secretary of state for communities and local government, in a planning officer's report.

The report (148-page / 3.1 MB PDF) noted that the proposed development was contrary to several retained policies from the Charnwood local plan for 1991 to 2006. However, in light of the Council's inability to demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land and its "record of persistent under delivery" of housing, the retained policies in relation to housing were considered out-of-date.

Applying the National Planning Policy Framework's presumption in favour of sustainable development, the planning officer considered that the proposed benefits of the scheme outweighed the adverse impacts. The officer decided that "less than substantial harm" would be caused to the setting of the nearby Hamilton deserted medieval village, noting that the sites would be separated by open space and additional planting under the plans.

Although a small section of the green wedge and a small area within an 'area of particularly attractive countryside' were included within the site boundaries, the report said that most of the developed area had no special landscape status, that the SUE would be "seen against the existing developed backdrop" and that a "significant green buffer area" was included in the plans, to reduce the impact on the most sensitive areas.

Among the factors weighing in favour of the development were the proposed housing mix, which the report said was "able to meet the identified need"; the large number of homes to be provided, in the context of the Council's past failure to deliver housing land; the promotion of walking, cycling and public transport; and the fact that the site was allocated for a 4,500 home SUE in the emerging Charnwood local plan core strategy.

"It is considered that for this planning application, proposing a comprehensively planned, sustainable development including benefits such as schools, a district centre, a wide choice of housing, a significant and immediate contribution to the Council's land supply and other infrastructure contributions, clearly outweighs any resulting harms that have been identified," concluded the report.

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