It's time to listen to public opinion
An open letter to the cabinet of Charnwood Borough Council regarding the planned urban extensions at Thurmaston and Garendon, from the Barkby and Barkby Thorpe Parishes Action Group (Babtag).
At your meeting on September 27, you will be asked to approve a development strategy put forward by your planners that has failed to take into account four years' worth of objections from all manner of organisations representing the people of Charnwood, your electors.
Despite greater flexibility in Government planning policy and the moves to strengthen the people's voice through the policy of localism, your planners have doggedly pursued their top-down goal of so-called Sustainable Urban Extensions at Garendon and Thurmaston.
Sure, they list all the objections in this lengthy report that were raised in the public consultations, but seem to think that the act of listing absolves them from heeding public opinion and licenses them to stick to the track they have been on for the past six years or more.
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You are being asked to endorse huge new town developments of 4,500 (Thurmaston) and 3,000 (Garendon) on productive green fields and much-loved countryside, in the face of fierce opposition from the people of the areas.
Suggestions that the 5,893 houses Charnwood has to build to house Leicester's growth should be renegotiated, and that the soon-to-be- revoked Regional Plan and its policy of urban concentration should be contested, are brushed aside in this report.
Amazingly, you are being asked to endorse these huge new towns when the necessary detailed transport modelling has still to be undertaken and it is not at all clear that the infrastructure can cope.
Babtag asks you to send this report back to the planners with the message that they should "think again" and come back with a plan that protects our countryside, that maintains the integrity and character of our villages and that spreads necessary housing development fairly across Charnwood.
Only such a course of action will secure the backing of the Charnwood public.
The planners have wanted these developments for years and their blinkered pursuit of these goals has have made a mockery of their public consultation exercises where opposition to their plans was overwhelming.
We call upon the elected councillors to represent strong local opinion and send the planners back to the drawing board.
Owen Bentley, chairman, Babtag.