Developers who want to build 200 new homes have been told they must leave a bigger gap between the development and neighbouring residents and Melton Country Park.
Borough councillors unanimously agreed last night (Thursday) to approve the outline scheme put forward by Taylor Wimpey on agricultural land off Melton Spinney Road at Thorpe Arnold.
The plans are important for Melton’s proposed partial bypass, the Melton Mowbray Distributor Road (MMDR), with the applicants happy to contribute £1,730,600 towards it and other roads.
The proposals allowed for a 20-metre buffer zone, planted with trees and vegetation, but a representative of the Friends of Melton Country Park told last night’s planning meeting that was ‘wholly inadequate’.
Jane Wilson received loud applause from a packed public gallery after telling the committee: “There should be a minimum buffer zone of 150 metres.
“These new homes will tower over the park – it will change it from a country park to a town park and cause irreversible damage to the biodiversity of the park.”
Councillor Pru Chandler agreed, saying the proposed 20-metre buffer zone was ‘ridiculous’, but she said 150 metres would be far too big a gap to expect the developers to create.
Members agreed with a suggestion by committee chairman, Councillor John Illingworth, to insist the applicants allow for 50 metres between the development and the country park, to the west, and 30 metres to the south, which borders residential properties on Carnegie Crescent and Hunt Drove.
It was decided that Friends of Melton Country Park should be involved in discussions over the planting in the buffer zones to protect species accessing the park and maximise screening.
The developers say they would be prepared to include an access to the country park for residents at the new homes and councillors felt this was essential to prevent congestion on existing accesses.
Concerns were also raised about the impact of the extra traffic from the development on an already pressured road network around Melton. It was pointed out that Melton Spinney Road narrowed to a width of just 4.8 metres at one point which could cause safety issues for pedestrians and the many extra motorists who would use it.
Craig Heaney, representing fellow residents at Thorpe Park, which is close to the site, told the meeting: “Our gravest concern relates to the traffic.
“If this development is approved it will only add to the chaos and misery on Melton’s roads.”
Committee members agreed with a suggestion from Councillor Tom Greenow to insist on road safety measures being put in at the ‘pinch point’ where the road narrows.
The scheme had been recommended for approval by council officials despite 72 letters of objection and strong opposition from Scalford Parish Council, which fears it will create a rat run for motorists through its village.
A report at the meeting pointed out that highways officers did not object to the scheme and that nearby Twinlakes Theme Park would not lead to an excessive build-up of traffic in the area.
Jim Worley, Melton Council’s assistant director for strategic planning, said it was likely that the proposed MMDR relief road would be built before the homes which would also alleviate any congestion.
Taylor Wimpey said at the meeting that 860 jobs would be generated through the building of the new homes.
The application is an outline plan at this stage but the developers’ representative, Ellie Smith, told councillors a full plan would be submitted around June and, if approved, ground work was scheduled for May next year with the first sale expected by the end of 2019.