Decision due on second attempt to have hugely unpopular Leicestershire warehouse scheme approved

Councillors are set to meet next week to decide whether a hugely unpopular warehouse scheme can go ahead. The Enderby Logistics Hub has been on the cards for the Leicestershire village for years – and campaigners have spent much of that time fighting against it.

The secured their first victory in October last year when elected members at Blaby District Council defied the advice of their own planning department and rejected the application put forward by developers Drummond Estate and Inverock Trust. However, the developers submitted a new plan in February which is now scheduled for a decision next Thursday, June 13. Planning officers have again recommended councillors give it the green light.

Drummond Estate and Inverock Trust are also appealing the original refusal. They submitted a scathing report in April calling on the Government’s planning inspectorate to overturn the council’s rejection.

READ MORE: Diwali update from Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby after 'non factual' petition launched

The first application, which was submitted in 2019 but had been on the cards for around a decade, would have seen four large logistics warehouses and a training centre built on the site next to the Enderby Park and Ride, off St Johns. The new plan no longer proposes the training centre, but instead includes three general industrial buildings in addition to the original four.

Vehicle access to the site would be from Leicester Lane, with a new road leading into the development opposite the junction with Smith Way. Traffic lights would be installed. A pedestrian and cycling route into the site would be created from St Johns (the B4114) as well. The applicants are also proposing upgrades to nearby roads, including traffic lights at Meridian South Roundabout, contributions towards improving Lubbesthorpe Way and towards the Desford Crossroads scheme.

Leicestershire County Council, as the local highways authority, withdrew its concerns over the 2019 plans after a proposed vehicle access point to the hub off St Johns was removed from the scheme. The “impacts of the development on highway safety would not be unacceptable, and when considered cumulatively with other developments, the impacts on the road network would not be severe”, highways officers concluded at the time.

Both Enderby Parish Council and local residents remain as opposed to the updated plan as they were the original. Blaby District Council said it had received 2,699 representations from members of the public on the scheme – 2,660 were objections and just 30 were in support of the application. They also received a petition from local campaign group Snub the Hub which had 753 signatures.

Those who oppose the plans have raised a number of concerns. These include the impact on the road network, the loss of a green space and subsequent impact on wildlife, and the effect of noise and light pollution on neighbours of the site. They also fear the jobs will not actually benefit the local community – as promised by the council and developers – due to allegedly low unemployment levels in the area.

Local residents have rallied together to oppose the updated plan for a new logistics hub in Enderby
Local residents have rallied together to oppose the updated plan for a new logistics hub in Enderby -Credit:Sandra Stevens / Snub The Hub

Enderby Parish Council has submitted its own objections. It said: “Residents do not wish this to be approved as they do not feel jobs will be created for local people and are fearful of losing their village’s identity, with the proposed reduced separation between residential areas and built up commercial areas in Enderby resulting in the loss of settlement boundary which will be harmful to the Enderby Parish.”

The council added: “With the proposed site being operational 24 hours a day seven days a week there will be an increase in vehicular movements within the site causing increased noise and light pollution. It is felt that no amount of sound proofing and screening will mitigate the scale and mass and positioning of the warehousing […] Leicester Lane is already overly congested especially at peak times. More traffic and especially HGV’s would only exacerbate the situation.

“The B4114 is regularly congested at peak times, both at the Foxhunter Roundabout and the Fosse Park junctions. Only recently an accident caused the closure of the M69 in both directions, forcing the traffic to redirect onto the B4114 and neighbouring villages leading to Enderby Village becoming gridlocked.”

Ultimately, planning officers at the district council disagree with the concerns. They maintain there is a need for more employment opportunities in the area, saying while some additional industrial developments have been approved since the land was allocated for this use, others have closed, leaving a gap that still needs filling.

They added: “By virtue of the application site’s location and proximity to the strategic road network alongside other large-scale commercial uses and a nearby source of labour, the site is considered to be highly attractive to the market, offering employment opportunities for the local population in a location which is accessible by walking, cycling and public transport.”

The county council has confirmed it still has no concerns about the updated plans from a highways perspective when the upgrades to the surrounding road network are taken into account. National Highways was also consulted on the new scheme and again has not objected.

There would be a noise impact on neighbours during the construction phase, district planning officers acknowledged. However these would be “short-term”, they said. When the site is up and running, there would be a “negligible” increase in noise from the warehouses and traffic.

The applicants are seeking outline permission for the scheme at this stage. This means councillors will be ruling on the scheme in principle, with many of the concrete details to be ironed out at a later date.

Planning officers said lighting will be among those “reserved matters”. They have suggested imposing a condition on any approval granted at this stage that “requires the applicant or developer to submit an external lighting scheme at the detailed design stage as part of any reserved matters application in order to robustly assess the method and location of all proposed external light sources”. In this way, they can “avoid the introduction of unnecessary lighting levels which could cause a nuisance to residential amenity or have an undesirable impact on the character and appearance and ecology of the area”.

Drummond Estate and Inverock Trust have also proposed a new woodland along the western and southern edges of the land and has said it will replace any hedgerows lost through the development.

It is uncommon for councillors to vote against the advice of their planning officers because such decisions are more likely to be overturned if they go to an appeal. This is because planning officers thoroughly assess and take into account the relevant policies in play before making a recommendation. The costs of fighting an appeal can run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds and, if the council loses, it will likely have to pay costs for the other side.