Former England rugby star leads fight against village housing plan

Keep Rearsby Rural committee members Neil Back (left) and Ged Pearson with village residents EMN-150330-095607001
Keep Rearsby Rural committee members Neil Back (left) and Ged Pearson with village residents EMN-150330-095607001
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Former Rugby World Cup winner Neil Back is spearheading a campaign to prevent a major new housing development going ahead in his village.

Jelson Homes has applied for planning permission to Charnwood Council to build 66 homes on a pasture field off Melton Road in Rearsby.

Around 70 villagers attended an extraordinary meeting of Rearsby Parish Council on Friday evening where councillors voted to oppose the application.

The meeting was attended by members of campaign group Keep Rearsby Rural, which is fighting to stop the Jelson proposals, including former England rugby ace Mr Back, who has lived in the village 15 years.

Before the extraordinary meeting he told the Melton Times: “If this goes ahead Rearsby won’t be a village anymore - it will lose its rural aspect.

“We have a bypass which is fantastic but this development could mean more than 100 extra cars driving through the village which will make it a lot less safe for people living here.”

Mr Back, who won the Rugby World Cup with the England team in 2003 and who is a Leicester Tigers RFC legend, said he was using his profile to raise awareness of the planned development which he claims will ruin the quality of life of residents.

“I chose this village to move to because of its rural aspect and because it was ideal for a young family,” he added. “This is a lovely open field which is used by a lot of people in the village to walk their dogs but we are now looking at having 66 houses built on it which is hard to imagine.”

Jelson Homes initially proposed a development of 155 homes at Rearsby but that has since been reduced to 66 following consultations with the community. The new plans would represent an increase of 14 per cent on the size of the village.

And Ged Pearson, chairman of Keep Rearsby Rural, said: “There are just 428 dwellings in Rearsby and just under 1,000 people live here so this will have a big impact on us.

“We are not against development but when it is totally unsustainable as this is then we have a perfect right to object.

“There is no space at the primary school for the new children who would live here, there is no shop, no doctors’ surgery and no post office so how can they justify building these houses.”

Jelson Homes, in a planning statement issued as part of its outline application, said a development of this size was consistent with the growth of rural villages across the UK and that the new homes would ‘satisfy local needs without saturating local services whilst fitting into its landscape context’.

The statement added: “(Rearsby) has grown since the 19th century and it can be seen that a development of this size is consistent with the growth of modern housing in the village at various times in the past, for example at Bleakmoor Close and Wreake Drive in the 1960s (63 dwellings) and Grange Avenue, Westfield Close and Weston Close in the 1990s (46 dwellings).