Planning or the elephant in the room?

Instead of an editorial this month, we decided to let a concerned resident’s voice be heard. Should we be worried? Let us know your views.

Dear Editor,

Planning or the elephant in the room?

Recent publication of the potential development for the area east of the Leicester City boundary, taking in Stoughton, Gaulby and Kibworth comes as no surprise. The usual suspects have been invited and confirmed which parcels of land they would sell within the next 10 years or so. The Coop want to resurrect 10,000+ homes (“Stretton Magna #2”) smothering several villages. Merton College indicate they are happy for agricultural land to be concreted over and a local farmer is happy to further enrich himself. Carlton Lane would become a rat run for several ‘000 homes in the process.

None of this is compliant with the Kibworth Neighbourhood Plan. Surely such development would require a bypass BEFORE the development started? The Merton College parcel will never support this; £40 -50 million cost splits between 3500 units equals a cost per unit of greater than £10,000 or £14,000 depending on the cost.

What can residents do, meaningfully, to influence the Planning authorities? SELAG disbanded once the A46 corridor was abandoned, the campaign against Stretton Magna likewise. Planning involves much more than housing. It leads to more traffic, noise, speeding and pollution.

To get on top of these issues is difficult, time consuming and sometimes intensely frustrating. This is the “elephant in the room”. I have been engaging with KH Parish Council, Harborough District Planning, Leicestershire County Council and Leicestershire Police for over ten years. I have now concluded that a new approach is needed. The reason has nothing to do with Housing, but traffic. Traffic volumes on the A6 have increased massively over two decades leading to a rise in speeding, noise, accidents (not all reported) and pollution. HGVs have increased in number and tonnage. I got in touch with Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground (“BPG “) before 2019 because of the sheer number of car transporters speeding through Kibworth. The owner of BPG, C. Walton Limited, was bought by Cox Automotive UK Limited. BPG operate under planning decision 98/00130/FUL and the agreed Operational Plan l (“OP”) limits the access routes to and from BPG. A fuller explanation on this issue as well as the intended speed activated signage for Main/Albert St is on the website to save space.

A Community Speed Watch (CSW) has been granted to Kibworth on three sites, Albert Street, A6 between the Munt, Main Street near the Cemetery. This is being led by Kevin Feltham. The initial training in February 2022 was aborted. It is very unusual, I am told, for three radar sites to be agreed. The Police do the training and are very prescriptive of the procedure. The terms and conditions are on the website. I urge all Kibworth residents to get involved. Twelve volunteers are needed, with double that number being ideal. There are some restrictions, mainly, Kibworth volunteers MUST attend the training, likely to be 29 April – 5 May, after “office hours”, otherwise no training, no CSW. However, the bigger picture is that if the data collected is such as to change the minds of Leicestershire Highways and Police, it might mean that average speed cameras (ASCs) are mandated, and they will be a huge game changer. All requests for ASCs have fallen on deaf ears to date, as far as I am aware, largely due to the “official” position of the Police/LHA, average speeds through Kibworth are not “high.” The CSW data collected may not be conclusive due to not enough “1.5 hour” sessions being conducted. The Police refuse to allow sessions after 20.00 hrs and not when it’s raining (dusk to dawn is to my certain knowledge a prime time for speeding traffic on the A6); if so, the data collecting (ANPR data) speed activated signage will be vital to fill the gaps.

A debate has to start, a public meeting might happen, a social media presence created; how this is organised is another matter. It would be good to see the influence that WAG (Welford Action group) has developed, replicated in Kibworth. In my opinion, it will need a person with wide experience of business and the public sector to lead it and people who are willing and able to take on the machine of the Police/LHA/County Hall in a determined, polite but very organised and firm manner. There are many groups of people up and down the UK who are concerned about planning and its less than beneficial effects – Rosemary Pearson’s Community Planning Alliance might be a considerable help in a wider context.

To start this ball rolling, I would like to encourage all Kibworth residents concerned about HGV car transporters on the A6 through Kibworth to lodge any complaints on this website – instructions are straightforward if Kibworth Area Action Group (KAAG) does get off the ground, this is precisely one example of the constructive dialogue that might be forthcoming:

I am happy to be involved, but for entirely personal reasons, only in a minor way.
Ian Simpson