A Comment On The New Local Plan

I recently attended the Local Plan exhibition in Kibworth and wish to share my feedback. As a longtime resident of Kibworth and a keen observer of both local and neighbourhood planning efforts, I believe I am in a strong position to provide specific insights regarding the development in Kibworth.

I have noted that your leaflet describes the local plan as including policies for environmental protection, job creation, and house building, as well as identifying where investment is needed for infrastructure like roads, schools and health services. However, attending the public consultation, there was a clear emphasis on house building (roughly 10 out of 12 display boards covered housing) and where to locate new developments. There was very little emphasis made on infrastructure investment, environmental protection or job creation.

Although I am not in a position to specify locations for new housing, I can emphasise the strain Kibworth has experienced due to large-scale developments without corresponding enhancements in infrastructure, leisure facilities, roads, or schools.

The Kibworth neighbourhood plan contains an adequate summary of some key issues. For example it mentions that Kibworth has “houses with inadequate parking spaces to cater for larger modern cars’ and that this is ‘adding to the street parking problem that is severe in key areas within Kibworth. The roads themselves and the street pattern in the Kibworth villages has developed over many centuries and is not suited to modern traffic. There is a serious issue with parking on the narrow streets in Kibworth with the consequent detrimental effect on pedestrian and road safety and the ease by which traffic, including emergency and service vehicles, can travel within the Kibworth villages.”

Community consultation has highlighted the importance of transport related issues within the Kibworth villages. Widespread concern was expressed at the Open Event held back in July 2015 about the capacity of the road network to cope with existing levels of vehicle movement and the impact that additional housing and higher levels of car ownership would have.

The A6 cuts through Kibworth Harcourt and Kibworth Beauchamp and effectively divides the communities north and south of the road. Access to the A6 was highlighted as a primary concern followed by the need to address parking issues, improved public transport and better connectivity with more cycle ways and footpaths. No such initiatives have to date been delivered.

The volume of traffic entering and leaving the Kibworth villages, especially at times of going to and leaving work and the school runs, was identified as a real source of worry in the community questionnaire (February 2016). People expressed concern about parking issues, blocked roads and difficulty getting safely out of the village and onto the A6. They also raised concerns about the danger to pedestrians, especially the children and young people traveling to and from school. The adequacy of public transport, speeding and the impact of the deterioration of road surfaces and air pollution caused by traffic volume.
None of those concerns have been addressed, conditions have instead worsened.

Traffic flows along the A6 through Kibworth Harcourt are recorded as being at a single direction highest level of 1,190/hr which is close to the maximum government guidance level for the type of urban single carriageway road of 1,300/hr (Design Manual for Streets. Traffic Capacity of Urban Roads, Advice Note TA 79/99, 1999). The additional traffic generation as a result of development within and outside the Parish boundaries is likely to breach this level unless mitigation is provided.

A study concluded that the A6 junctions at Wistow Road (the big roundabout), Church Road (by the Coach & Horses) and New Road are already over capacity. In addition, we now have an air quality management area along the A6, with very little if anything actually being done in terms of the air quality actually being managed.

It is self evident that more housing in and around Kibworth will put more cars onto local roads and onto the A6 which in turn will increase air quality issues. This also has an impact on the health of residents and no plans for mitigation have been made or implemented.

The neighbourhood plan also highlighted traffic speeding as a key concern as expressed by villagers through community consultation. Traffic generated by recent housing developments within and outside the Plan area has increased both volumes and the problems of capacity at peak times on the main A6, resulting in the village roads being used as ‘rat runs’, bringing with it the problems of speeding as well as increased volumes of traffic on what are small, rural roads.

The inadequate distribution of resources between towns such as Market Harborough and villages such as Kibworth manifests itself through many factors. One such factor is the enforcement of traffic and parking violations. Below is the result of the freedom of information request which evidences a lack of fairness when it comes to distribution of such resources.

  • How many times has a Traffic Enforcement Officer been on duty in Kibworth for the year to date as well as the year 2022 and 2023? The figures are for 2022 – 292 and for 2023 – 283 respectively.
  • How many times has a Traffic Enforcement Officer been on duty in Market Harborough for the year to date as well as the year 2022 and 2023? 2022 – 20555 and 2023 – 26844
  • How many Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for parking offences were issued in Kibworth for the year to date as well as the year 2022? That figure is 19
  • How many Fixed Penalty Notices for parking offences were issued in Market Harborough for the year to date as well as the year 2022? That figure is 3410
  • How many times a week are Traffic Enforcement Officers normally scheduled to be on duty in Kibworth in an average week? Once per week
  • How many times a week are Traffic Enforcement Officers normally scheduled to be on duty in Market Harborough in an average week? Daily

Taking into account census data, Harborough has 97,600 residents and Kibworth 7,329. This makes Harborough 13.3 x larger than Kibworth. However, when it comes to FPNs, Harborough issues 179 x more per population in their own town than in Kibworth. As a result, residents in Kibworth suffer more from motor traffic impact than residents of Market Harborough.

Recent census data also shows that Kibworth has grown faster up to 2021 than the District average since the 2001 and 2011 census yet is lacking the necessary investment in infrastructure and services.
Case in point, there is no safe walking or cycling route to Birds Barn where our football club is located. This causes traffic chaos every Sunday. The club itself has no suitable changing rooms or toilet facilities, it’s housed in a temporary building which is falling apart. It’s a shameful situation given the amount of children playing there.

In summary, it is an objectively valid point that Kibworth has had a disproportionately large allocation of housing over the last two decades, which the village has been unable to absorb efficiently due to a lack of investment in any kind of infrastructure or public services to go alongside such a rapid increase in population.

Even seemingly small and reasonable requests for zebra crossings on the High Street and outside the High School were denied. The aforementioned factors should weigh heavily on any decisions for further housing in or around Kibworth. Moreover, the investment to assimilate the housing that has already been imposed is still badly needed.

Stefan Richter