1,500 houses approved despite claims warehouses will loom over homes

A massive housing estate for a Leicestershire town has been approved, despite last-minute attempts to have the decision delayed over claims of 12metre warehouses looming over homes and a cemetery. Two planning applications for the 1,500 Earl Shilton Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE) off Mill Lane in the town were submitted to Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council by Bloor Homes, Jelson Homes and Barwood Land.

At the council’s plans committee on Tuesday, an objector and the town's two ward councillors said employment land earmarked for the land as part of the development could mean 12m-high warehouses being built just one metre from people’s properties. But the council’s head of planning said ‘that’s not correct’, adding calls by objectors to demand a 30m buffer between possible warehouses and other employment uses from homes and the cemetery weren't appropriate as an even larger buffer might actually be required.

Councillors approved both applications, with some members expressing sympathy for residents but saying their concerns would need to be addressed when more detailed planning applications are submitted by the developer at the next stage of the process. The applications include the area of employment land, as well as a new school, community hub and retail space.

READ MORE: More homes announced for Leicestershire town where 1,500 properties already set to be approved

A total of almost £22million has been promised by the developers towards local services and facilities, with £18m for education, £1.1m for healthcare and £1.3 for improvements to the Weavers Springs sports fields. Neil Ball, planning director at WSP who spoke on behalf of the developers, said they would also be contributing to 'travel options at Desford crossroads', as well a making a financial contribution that could be used to reinstate the scrapped number 1 bus service.

But Sam Wilgress, a logistics developer who spoke against the plans at the meeting, raised the possibility of new buildings on the employment land being built too close to existing homes on Union Mill Close. He said: “One metre from the boundary of residential housing and adjacent a cemetery with grieving families is unacceptable." He called for the decision to be delayed for a ‘proper assessment of the operational effects’.

Ward councillor Claire Allen said: “I do understand that homes are needed especially for young people and families.” But she added: "It is imperative we get this right for residents. I don’t want to be faced with a situation where there are grieving families and funerals next to industrial units.” She and fellow ward councillor Richard Allen called for a 30m landscape buffer between the cemetery, homes on Union Mill Close and other sensitive locations near the development.

Coun Richard Allen said he had ‘been fighting this development for more years that I care to count’. He added he had concerns over a proposed new junction at Astley Road, and said: ‘Those of you who know Earl Shilton will appreciate that much of the infrastructure is Victorian in origin and already under severe pressure."

But Councillor Stuart Bray said: “I do have an amount of sympathy for people wanting to ensure that there is appropriate screening and buffers. I’ll put a marker down now for both our officers and the applicant who’s sitting in the chamber to say that I personally will be looking very closely at that when it does come back if the committee approves it."

Coun Bray also spoke about the current planning situation in Hinckley and Bosworth, saying: "We all know that the government requires us to provide thousands of houses in this borough going forward over the next few years. Everything we’re hearing about any future government, it’s not going to change. This is the uncomfortable truth that we’ve all got to face. The amount of housing that we are being required by this government to provide pretty much exactly matches the amount of land that is coming forward by developers being put forward. In other words, we’ve not really got much of a choice. We’re going to have to allocate these sites.”

Councillor Keith Lynch added: “41 years ago when I was first elected, we would have kicked this into touch along with 90 per cent of the proposals we’ve had to put up with over the last few years. Wouldn’t it be lovely to say those are green fields and they’re staying green fields? But the world as it is is not as we wish it to be.

“Here at least there is reasonable gain, there is reasonable possibility of actually planning something that will be of benefit."

Responding to concerns from objectors and ward councillors, Chris Brown, the council’s head of planning, said: “At no point do the plans in front of you show a building within a metre as it’s been stated tonight. That’s not correct." He added of requests to delay the decisions: "We wouldn’t have brought it to committee if we didn’t feel it was ready. All I’m trying to suggest is that a deferral I don’t think will get us any further down the line.”

The applications were approved, one with 10 votes in favour, the other, 11. Both had three votes against and two abstentions.

We are now bringing you the latest updates on WhatsApp first