Melton Local Plan moves forward despite concerns

Melton Council's Parkside offices EMN-160914-121725001
Melton Council's Parkside offices EMN-160914-121725001
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Concerns over school places and some villages being earmarked to take more housing growth over the next 20 years than they’d previously thought were aired at a key council meeting on the new Melton Local Plan.

On Monday Melton Council agreed to move forward to the next stage in the production of the Local Plan which will shape development in the borough up until 2036.

About 6,000 homes are needed to be built in the borough over the next 20 years. It’s proposed for about 4,000 of these to be built in Melton (65 per cent of the total provision), including major extensions to the north and south of the town, and about 2,000 homes to be accomodated in the villages (35 per cent).

But after professional assessment of sites suitable for development, the council has identified five villages which can’t physically take their full share of new homes (Asfordby, Hose, Scalford, Stathern and Great Dalby).

After considering various options the council proposed that the resulting shortfall of 162 homes should be redistributed in certain villages. The proposals would see Bottesford take an additional 55 homes over the plan period, Long Clawson - 17, Harby - 14, Waltham - 13, Wymondham - 10, Somerby, Asfordby Hill and Frisby - nine, Croxton Kerrial - eight, Old Dalby and Gaddesby - six, Ab Kettleby - three, Easthorpe and Thorpe Arnold - two.

Councillor Edward Hutchison, who represents the Frisby ward, said: “It seems to be very unfair that rural hubs such as Frisby should take an additional allocation from the redistribution of the 162 homes.

“Frisby is close to finishing the first draft of its neighbourhood plan and generally accepts it should take its fair 20 per cent share of new homes, previously indicated at 48. That was recalculated to 69 but if you include the penalty imposed due to lack of sites in other rural hubs this rises to 78 new homes, which is over 30 per cent expansion (plus a reserve site of 24 homes).

“What’s also hitting a raw nerve is that there seems little sympathy for the several rural primary schools that are close to full capacity.”

The council has recommended for settlement specific policies to be included in the Local Plan, dealing with the constraints affecting villages and sites within them. Such policies say development of particular sites will be supported provided ‘local educational capacity is available or can be created through developer contributions to meet the needs of the site.’

But former council leader Byron Rhodes (Long Clawson and Stathern ward) said he was concerned that in the case of some of the villages earmarked for smaller housing developments there may not be enough money generated from Section 106 developer planning contributions to provide for more primary school places as required and stated in the policies.

He added: “That worries me because without these contributions the plan will not work. If the plan fails what then? Isn’t it time to pause and think?”

Council leader Pam Posnett told members that council officers were working with the education department and looking at ways to get Section 106 money towards providing more school spaces.

She said: “It’s absolutely critical that we continue to maintain progress to ensure our Local Plan is submitted early next year. This is due to several reasons but in particular we must be able to defend against the ever-increasing number of planning applications that we continue to see in the villages and town. We cannot do this without a plan.

“Clearly some may not be happy with what we’re proposing but I can reassure you that we did listen to the concerns raised regarding distribution, as part of the previous consultation, and we’ve adopted an amended approach.

“We must also remember that there will still be opportunity for representations to be received towards this methodology as part of the submission plan and an inspector will be able to consider those representations as part of the hearing process.”

Councillor John Illingworth (Melton Sysonby ward) added: “There’s not a hope we will come up with a plan with which everyone is happy. We have fulfilled our promise to review the housing allocations and I think we have come up with a fair solution. This plan may not be perfect in anyone’s eyes but I urge all members to stay in support of it.”