SELAG (South and East Leicestershire Action Group) sets out its views on The Revised Leicester and Leicestershire Strategic Growth Plan and the Plan’s retention of the A46 Expressway as its central feature despite the clear majority against it in its own public consultation. Philip Bland Chairman of SELAG says:
”No defined route for the A46 Expressway, no precise locations for the 38,000 houses along its route, No Plan B if government funding for the road is denied yet between now and December district and county councillors across Leicestershire are being asked to bind their councils into this plan. It is a pig in a poke and no councillor should buy it.”
Deaf to public concerns
The authors of the Plan claim “we have listened to the comments of the public” but on the evidence of the revised Plan they have not heeded the public concern about the A46 Expressway.With the exception of the dropping of the Southern Gateway for the A5 Corridor there is no substantial deviation from the road obsessed final version of the Strategic Growth Plan to its draft predecessor. It is difficult to see what purpose the public consultation exercise serves when the views so strongly expressed in it are simply ignored and the SGP, without any formal public examination moves with indecent haste to its next stage – endorsement by its partner authorities by mid-December with most district councils scheduling crunch meetings by mid-November. Such a timetable allows no time for dissenting voices to be heard.
Paying no real heed to the public consultation
The overwhelming majority of the respondents (57%) opposed the A46 Expressway against only 31% for it yet it remains the centrepiece of the SGP.
Whereas the southern gateway was opposed by 50% of the respondents and the Plan’s authors removed it. Nor was there even a majority for the 4 priorities (delivering new housing, supporting the economy, identifying essential infrastructure and protecting the environment and the built heritage) with 42% against and 42% in favour. This less than ringing endorsement is a reflection of the dissatisfaction of the respondents to the lowly placing of the environment in the four priorities and in the Plan generally.
Ignoring government advice for a statutory plan
The haste to commit all the local authorities to the Plan is evident in the brushing aside of the wishes of the NPPF for a statutory plan that uses a standard methodology for calculating housing need. On its current course the Plan avoids proper scrutiny by a government inspector and has housing targets that many experts believe to be overblown.
Route of the A46 Expressway and location of new housing
The revised Plan does not give the route of the A46 Express which is “still to be defined” nor the location of new housing settlements thus revealing a major weakness in the Plan and an attempt to head off an even greater wave of opposition when they are finally revealed.
No Plan B
There is no alternative to the A46 Expressway explored in the final Plan and no heed taken of other options raised in the public consultation e.g. the upgrading of the current A46 and its junctions or the impact of new technology on road transport in the 2030s. Instead the Plan hangs onto the coat-tails of Midlands Connect and the Midlands Engine in the hope that national government funding for roads will provide the necessary infrastructure for its ambitious housing and employment schemes.
Lack of concern for the rural environment and the Leicestershire landscape
Many respondents to the Plan including the CPRE pointed out the damage that the Expressway would cause to a swathe of Leicestershire’s most attractive and productive countryside. The revised Plan has no new words on the environment and landscape revealing the low priority given to these major concerns. Whilst Charnwood Forest and the Bosworth Battlefield are listed as important for protection High Leicestershire is omitted in draft and final versions of the Plan.
For more information contact Philip Bland