A planning Inspector has approved Melton’s Local Plan paving the way for it to be adopted as a framework for development policies and opportunities in the borough for the next 18 years.
The key document was finalised by Melton Council after a series of public consultations stretching back more than five years and outlines where the housing, retail and business needs of the community will be provided and how important countryside, ecological and heritage features will be protected.
In a detailed 44-page report from the Planning Inspectorate, Inspector Mary Travers concludes that it provides an appropriate basis for the planning of the borough, subject to a number of main modifications.
She also concludes that the Plan complies with all relevant legal requirements, such as community engagement and strategic planning across the wider area.
Councillor Leigh Higgins, deputy leader of the council, said: “The council is delighted that the Inspector has made this decision on the Local Plan, it should also reassure communities where development is going, while protecting what we value and give the council strength when refusing speculative, and inappropriate, applications.
“This is a Plan for growth and to unleash the huge potential we have in Melton.
“It is a plan for the whole borough and will position our community well to realise that potential as well as meet future needs and address some longstanding problems, such as congestion in Melton Mowbray and the affordability of housing.
“It marks our ambition to be on the side of our residents who do the right thing to get on the ladder and own a home of their own.
“It will also help us fund opportunities for major projects, such as the distributor road and improvements to schools.”
The Inspector’s report is the culmination of all the work that has gone into preparing the local plan, and concludes the examination stage.
The examination included two weeks of public hearings this January and February, at which a range of interested parties argued for and against many aspects of the Plan. Modifications were suggested and consulted upon in June and July.
The next step is for the council to consider the Inspector’s report and recommendation, at a meeting scheduled for October 10.
If members agree, the Local Pan will be adopted as the final version for making decisions on planning applications and as the basis for funding bids and activities to boost housing delivery and economic growth in the borough.
The main provisions of the Plan, which is for the period 2011 to 2036, are:
-Land for 6,125 houses, with targets for housing delivery increasing from at least 170 every year to 2021, to 245 every year to 2026 and rising to 320 every year thereafter;
-Around 65 per cent of all new housing will be in Melton Mowbray and two Sustainable Neighbourhoods to the south and north, and 35 per cent will be in villages. The Inspector has recommended an extra site in Asfordby and that one in Long Clawson be removed from the Plan.
-Up to 40 per cent affordable housing, including starter homes.
-A new Melton Mowbray Distributor Road to open up new housing and employment land.
-New primary schools and local centres in the northern and southern Sustainable Neighbourhoods and extension of existing secondary school provision in the town.
-Large new employment areas at Leicester Road and Asfordby Business Park, alongside policies to facilitate the establishment and expansion of businesses needing more rural locations.
-Policies to help the town centre to diversity and attract new town centre uses.
-A dispersed approach to housing in villages, so that it is focussed on the most sustainable locations, whilst also allowing opportunities in smaller villages where there is a specific need.
-A specific policy for each housing site to ensure regard is had to their individual circumstances and requirements, such as safeguarding heritage assets and avoiding flood risk .
-A suite of environmental polices that protect our countryside and historic assets whilst allowing the countryside to remain a place where agriculture and business can flourish.
-Policies that will help to ensure and clarify the alignment of the Plan and neighbourhood plans.