All Going According to Plan – But Which One?

May I suggest you put the kettle on and make yourself a brew before starting to read this? It may take a few minutes and you might need tea or coffee to help digest the contents. RG

When is a plan not a plan? 

Take a gentle stroll along School Road, Kibworth. Leave the car at home and walk, beyond the car park entrance to the Grammar School Hall,. Continue onwards into Elliot Close, with the soon to be 300 year old School and Headmaster’s House on your left.

You may well have seen various photos of the property that were taken in the 1950s by then Head Boy, Michael Parker of Great Glen. He sadly passed away this January (well remembered having, as a pupil, sang lead role as Don Giovanni in a fully staged, costumed production of Mozart’s opera. (Opera at and by a state school? Yes KBGS, School Road).

To know more of these buildings dating from 1725, many continue to turn to the authoritative History of the Grammar School researched and penned by Mr. Elliott in the late 1950s. Not to be confused with Mr. Elliot the former Headmaster; two different people.

The first Mr Elliott was a history teacher at KBGS and the second (as the road sign Elliot Close displays) being a former Head of KBGS. I am not alone in having been influenced by them both, as a pupil under Mr. John Elliot’s headship, and listening to the retired Mr. Bernard Elliott, in his Oadby Bungalow…

Mr Elliot’s 1936 Plan

This year is some 86 years since initial plans were imagined by Headmaster Elliot and KBGS governing body for the 1936 addition to the school. This is what we know as the Grammar School Hall, which is now on course via both Kibworth Parish Councils to be subject of planning applications to extend and change into a Community Hub. This seems to me, as was the original vision of Mr. Elliot in the early 1930s, to be very much encouraged. 

Have the cup of tea ready…Parish Plan 

Once upon a time, as several readers will recall, an army of volunteers gave hours, days and weeks of their spare time to the preparation of the Kibworth Parish Plan, being assured this would have influence.

The Chronicle of September 2002 carried assurances that issues would include services, amenities, health and community care.

The Parish Plan will offer a great opportunity to shape and influence our own local affairs…a sub group is preparing a questionnaire which will be circulated to all residents including children over the age of eight years.”

With a photographic exhibition at the Methodist Church in November 2002, it was a mammoth effort comprehensively rolled out and documented in the final report. As a Kibworth District Councillor at the time I had it spelt out to me clearly that this would carry weight with planners at local and district level.

Another sip to keep you going …  Neighbourhood Development Plan 

But then, would you believe, a change of plan from the powers that be. Having had a Parish Plan we now needed a Neighbourhood Plan, over 100 pages of it, as well as a referendum, covering the years 2017 to 2031.

“A real opportunity for the local community to work together and to take control of the future of the two Kibworth villages (Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt) by gathering evidence and consulting on a range of topics including housing, employment, leisure, community facilities etc.”  

This plan was formulated and the required referendum held, as the HDC website states, on 25 January 2018. The Kibworth’s Neighbourhood Plan received more than 50% of the ‘yes’ votes.

Following this positive referendum result Harborough District Council is publishing its decision to ‘make’ The Kibworth’s Neighbourhood Development Plan part of Harborough District Councils Development Plan in accordance with Regulation 19 of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012.

So there we go all sorted, BUT top your cup up, there’s more.

Neighbourhood Development Plan Refresh

Would you believe, last year this had to be refreshed, surprise surprise and be independently examined. How refreshing is that?

The Stakeholders have now been advised of Regulation 14 consultation which will run from 15 November until 31 December Neighbourhood planning regulations (Regulation 14) require the draft neighbourhood plan proposal to be the subject of a pre-submission consultation before it is submitted to the local authority for independent examination..

Hence some evening reading up to Christmas and the New Year. The main Neighbourhood Plan document along with eight appendices known as the Planning/Neighbourhood Plan/Kibworth’s Neighbourhood Plan (Review 2021).

Sure enough, as reported to the recent January 25 KBPC meeting

All the comments received from the Regulation 14 consultation that ended on 31st December have been entered into the template and the document is 74 pages.”

It is now to be assessed along with a CONSULTATION DOCUMENT, externally examined, some changes may be requested and then likely, hey ho, another REFERENDUM. WOW. 

Re-boil the kettle and re-brew for further planning.

Whereas the various plans, refresher, etc etc had been pretty comprehensive, before the present extension of the Grammar School Hall into a Community Hub could go ahead we needed, wait for it, another plan. What a joy.

Community Hub Feasibility Study

I note in the Kibworth Harcourt Parish Council approved minutes dated Jan 6 last

Feasibility Study of Kibworth Community Hub Resolution: To approve the additional cost of £1250.00 (£393.75 for KHPC) for the final architect fees of £4500 (£3250 of this has previously been agreed) to be shared with KBPC.’

Similarly in the draft minutes of Kibworth Beauchamp Parish Council dated Jan 11 last ‘

Feasibility Study of Community spaces It was resolved to approve the additional cost of £1250.00 for the final architect fees of £4500 (£3250 of this has previously been agreed) to be shared with KHPC (£856.25 for KBPC).’

Further, Kibworth Beauchamp Parish Council agenda for their January 25th meeting included

Feasibility Study of Community spaces To receive an update including the financial position of the GSH Resolution: To approve the draft Phase 3 Proposal from Nortoft which includes planning application and associated costs. To agree a budget for KBPC of £20,000.’ 

Pause your tea and ask yourself How Many Plans? 

I am certainly not blaming anyone, it’s the way things happen, or don’t happen in 21st century local government.

Noting the decades of reports, researching, consulting, reviewing and the associated fees up to Community Hub stage three, what will stage four cost before a brick is laid or even a detailed planning application is submitted.

It makes me wonder whether the folks in the1930s have much to teach the 21st century

and as you finish your brew consider The Original 1936 Plan Was Simple But Effective.

Headmaster John Elliot undoubtedly sought advice but in an age before advisers, agencies, associates , stakeholders and consultancies were involved. The system then was simple direct, effective and in real terms cheaper. 

1) decide what’s required. 2) establish what’s on offer. 3) agree what could be afforded. 4) Do it. 

Roger Garratt