Councillors reject plans for mixed use housing and office development on edge of Melton

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Councillors have thrown out plans to build about 54 homes and offices on a site previously given approval for a business park development on the edge of Melton.

In 2011 Westleigh Developments was granted outline planning permission for the business park project on land adjacent to the A607 Leicester Road, west of Bowling Green. It had been hoped the scheme could have created more than 500 new jobs.

But an employment report later commissioned by the developer claimed that scheme wasn’t viable and was unlikely to proceed.

Westleigh claimed its fresh outline planning application for a mixed use development, comprising of about 54 homes and 1,360 sqm of office space, would better meet demand.

A Melton Council planning officer had recommended for the plans to be approved, subject to conditions.

But after weighing up the positives and negatives of the proposal, the council’s planning committee decided to refuse the plans on grounds that Westleigh had failed to show it had satisfactorily dealt with the issue of noise and failed to show there was no reasonable prospect of the site being used for employment purposes.

Speaking on behalf of the applicants, planning consultant Graham Price said the proposed mixed use development was in a ‘highly sustainable location’, included up to 40 per cent affordable housing and that the scheme’s benefits ‘significantly outweighed any harm’. He added that the development would also greatly benefit the local economy in terms of job creation and housing provision.

But, proposing the application’s refusal, councillor Pru Chandler said: “I’ve seen no clear evidence that this site has been marketed and promoted as office and commercial use. We’re currently working on the Local Plan and we have to provide additional employment land. It seems an ideal opportunity that this site will be for business use. It has it now, why can’t it stay that way and be part of our growth plan? I think it’s cashing in on the housing market and I also think there’s a noise issue.”

Some councillors also raised concerns about flooding and foul smells at the site although Jim Worley, the council’s head of regulatory services, told the committee he had no reason to think that smell or flooding would be a problem and there was no evidence to show that odour breached any thresholds.

Councillor Pat Cumbers, who has served that local ward for 18 years, added she’d also never received any complaints about smells.