In the last issue of the Kibworth Chronicle, a correspondent told readers to ‘keep an eye on what is sneaked through by the planners’ while the Chronicle takes its summer break, suggesting that ‘two months’ inattention is just what some people are waiting for.
Planning does not work like that. There is a statutory legal process. A detailed application must be submitted before anything is built, and there is a consultation period when the public and parish councils can offer comments. Major developments are decided at a meeting of the Planning Committee, open to the public, at which the Parish Council and members of the public can speak.
However, a significant number of applications for major housing developments do seem to be submitted to the planners during the summer when many residents are away, such as the latest proposals from Manor Oak Homes to build up to 400 homes on land west of Warwick Road.
If a planning authority cannot show it can deliver a certain number of new homes over the next five years, the Government says there must be a ‘presumption in favour’ of new developments. Harborough has not reached its target for many years, so major planning applications have had to be approved unless there have been very good reasons for not doing so. Districts must also have a Local Plan which sets out housing policy across the area. Harborough’s plan has still not been finally approved by the inspector appointed by the Government, but it does not include any further major housebuilding in Kibworth.
However, in July, the Government announced new ways of working out how many new houses we need. Based on this, Harborough is now meeting its target. We also have a Neighbourhood Plan, approved by the Government’s inspector and accepted at referendum by the residents of Kibworth.
The Manor Oak Homes proposal for more houses in Kibworth is outside the Limits of Development in our plan. Now that Harborough has a Five-year Land Supply for housing, our Neighbourhood Plan carries full weight. This housing development must therefore be refused.