This is Land for Life's reference information website for planning policy regarding Hall Farm Estate and the Long Walk woodland area in Blaby, Leicestershire UK. Last update: 26th May 2017
The new Neighbourhood Plan aims to designate the Long Walk area a 'Local Green Space' following overwhelming public support for protecting Blaby's highly valued green asset. The 'submission' version of the plan is now in its formal 'examination' phase. If you wish to comment on the plan at this stage you should do so by 8th June. To read our latest news update on the progress of this plan please click here.
Much of the information on this website relates to the first planning application by Gladman Developments on Hall Farm land, i.e. north of Hospital Lane, south of Mill Lane and surrounding the Long Walk woodland. This application was refused by the Planning Inspectorate in 2014. Information about the second reduced scale application in 2015 (also refused) is given below.
Please scroll down for news of the second (reduced scale) application on the south of the site.
All the background information and most of the original objections and arguments for refusal remain completely valid and remained just as strong for the second reduced scale application. There were also additional compelling planning policy reasons for refusal of the second application.
The original Land for Life website (2010-14), launched to share information and help the community oppose the first planning application impacting the site (currently not being maintained) is here.
LOCAL PLAN NEWS: Blaby Parish Council set up a community led steering group tasked with producing a draft local plan to help protect and enhance Blaby in the most sustainable way possible. Called the Blaby Neighbourhood Plan, it will become a powerful and effective tool for conservation and sustainable development, one of its aims will be to protect our most valuable green spaces. As well as protecting special areas the plan must also identify the most sustainable areas for possible expansion and development if this becomes necessary in the future. This is a way local people can have a real say in the way Blaby develops and is protected in the future - more details can be found on the local plan news page and the council website at Parish Home - please get involved if you have not done so already and give your support to the public consultation process.
Blaby District Council (the Local Planning Authority) are consulting on the contents of the Local Plan Delivery Development Plan Document - this is the second part of the Local Plan that deals with, among other things, specific site options for housing and employment etc. It does not deal with Local Green Space designations, this is covered by Neighbourhood Plans. The local public consultation on the draft is now over. Details can be seen at www.blaby.gov.uk/
SECOND GLADMAN APPLICATION NEWS: (last updated 21/11/15)
Current situation >>>
On the 5th March 2015 Blaby District Council's Development Control Committee voted unanimously to refuse Gladman's scaled-down second Hospital Lane planning application. The Decision Notice refusing the application was duly issued on the 11th March.
The applicants, Gladman Developments, had the right to appeal to the Secretary of State within six months of the decision, but there appears to be no reasonable or plausible grounds for appeal in this case and any appeal would be vigorously defended by the District Council, the Parish Council and Land for Life. Further details are given below.
The six month statutory appeal window has now closed and no appeal was made against the decision to refuse planning permission.
Gladman Developments have removed reference to this particular application from their website at current-projects-east-midlands
Background to the second application >>>
Following the refusal of the original planning application in July 2014 Gladman Developments announced in early November that they intended to submit outline plans for a smaller development of about 100 dwellings north of Hospital Lane. They did not hold any public exhibition or consultation event this time. The original plans were published on their website, but have now been removed.
Gladmans tried to mitigate some of the Government Inspector's original reasons for refusal, but what they proposed, a new housing estate of 75 dwellings north of Hospital Lane next to Thistly Meadow school and butting right up to Long Walk, is still massively unpopular and like the original proposal it is not necessary and is not sustainable. It runs counter to the Local Plan, the draft Neighbourhood Plan and most critically, national planning policy.
Understandably some people may fear it is inevitable that eventually Gladmans will be successful in their attempts to get planning permission on this site even though there is no planning policy support. Fortunately this is not the case. The site can be protected in the long term.
Most of the reasons for refusal of the original Gladman application on this site remain valid and what is proposed would still cause totally unjustified harm to Blaby's heritage assets, especially Long Walk and its surroundings. This is a very special area that the community want to protect. It can be, and should be, defended against unwarranted highly speculative planning applications launched by aggressive site promoters against the wishes of the community.
In addition, having themselves dismissed other parts of the Hall Farm site as being unsuitable for development, the new application did not address the fact that about half of the area now proposed as a residential development (just north of Hospital Lane) is at high risk of surface water flooding and was designated a Functional Floodplain (Flood Zone 3b) in the local joint Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) completed late last year. The remainder of the site is in Flood Zone 3a, 2 and 1.
The joint Hinckley & Bosworth BC, Oadby & Wigston BC and Blaby DC SFRA published in October 2014 was prepared in consultation with, and agreed by, the Environment Agency and Leicestershire County Council, who are the owners of the Hall Farm estate land where the proposed development site is located.
Government planning policy guidance now is that all potential sources of flooding should be considered, not just sea and the larger river flood risk. The Environment Agency river and sea flood maps generally consider only rivers with a catchment area of about 3 square km or more. Separate maps show surface water flood risk. Local authorities are responsible for producing their own up to date Strategic Flood Risk Assessments that consider all potential flood risks in their area.
The applicant submitted a Flood Risk Assessment report to support the application. Although this report refers to the Environment Agency planning (river and sea) flood map, which in this area shows mainly the flooding risk from the River Sence, the report does not refer to the Environment Agency surface water flood map. More critically, neither does it refer at all to the latest local joint Strategic Flood Risk Assessment produced by the local authorities.
The applicant did not produce a revised up to date Flood Risk Assessment before the determination deadline, neither have they demonstrated that they have applied the required flood risk "Sequential Test" to their proposals to demonstrate that there is no viable alternative development site outside a flood risk area.
Even if they were able to provide evidence that a sequential test could be passed (which appears highly unlikely) about half of the proposed site is in Flood Zone 3b - and here only essential infrastructure would be allowed in any circumstances. Residential developments are not classed as essential infrastructure.
Not surprisingly the Environment Agency objected to the application, as did other statutory consultants, including the Parish Council, Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and English Heritage.
The presence of designated floodplain over much of the site is on its own sufficient grounds to have the application refused by the Local Planning Authority.
Even if the proposed site was not a designated Functional Floodplain it would still not be a suitable site for development and the application should be emphatically refused as was the original larger scale application. Blaby District Council officers made it clear at the previous application public hearing that there is absolutely no planning policy support for the development of this site.
There appears to be very little prospect of a successful appeal to the Secretary of State in this case as many of the Planning Inspectorate's original reasons for refusal remain valid and residential development on a Functional Floodplain is against national planning policy.
Such is the strength of planning policy on potential floodplain development any such planning application that is being considered for acceptance by a Local Planning Authority (LPA) has to be referred to the Secretary of State before determination. The Secretary of State then decides if they want to "call-in" the application or authorise the LPA to decide the matter.
Blaby District Council (the LPA) is no longer in "Special Measures" with regard to planning decisions so this time Gladman Developments were obliged to submit their outline planning application directly to the District Council. We understand that no substantive pre-application discussions took place.
The application documents and comments from statutory consultees and some other respondents have been uploaded to Blaby District Council’s website and are available to view at – www.blaby.gov.uk/online-applications/ Search using reference 14/1076/1/OX or Hospital Lane.
LFL submitted an objection statement and it can be viewed here
As this was classed as a major development the application, along with the Planning Officers recommendation, was considered by the District Council planning (Development Control) committee.
The Planning Officers report is part of the Development Control meeting information pack for the 5th March 2015 meeting. The planning officer's recommendation was to refuse the application.
On the 5th March the Development Control Committee meeting voted unanimously to refuse the application and the Decision Notice to REFUSE the outline planning application was duly issued on the 11th March 2015.
The First Planning Application on Hall Farm Estate (2014)
First Application status: The government appointed Inspector announced his decision to REFUSE the original application on the 22nd July 2014. Full details are on the S62A/2014/0001 website linked below.
The Public Hearing was held on the 17th June 2014. Some new information was submitted and accepted by the Inspector after the Public Hearing. The new information related to housing need assessments and the impact of a new proposal for a "sealed surface" 3m wide pedestrian & cycle access link with lighting across the northern field (south of Mill Lane).
Previously the northern field (near Mill Lane) was to be an "extension to Bouskell Park," now in a new proposal, the impact of which has not been properly evaluated, Gladman are proposing to carve out a new access route that will go to the historic core of Blaby and also pass very close to the north pond and a number of listed buildings.
Photo of hearing venue prior to start of the evening session.
Gladman Developments have proposed the construction of up to 220 new houses on land to the north of Hospital Lane, to the south of Mill Lane and to the east of Bouskell Park Blaby Leicestershire. Site Plan
The site, which is part of the original Hall Farm Estate, is owned by Leicestershire County Council (the land was bought by the Council in 1931). The owners, having now decided that they want to dispose of the estate, signed a promotion agreement with Gladman Developments in July 2013 to promote it as a site for a potential new housing development and to try to secure outline planning permission in order to maximise the land's value. The nominal duration of the promotion contract is 5 years.
There are many reasons why we think the attractive area behind Bouskell Park with the beautiful Long Walk woodland trail and well used network of paths should be protected and not turned into a large housing estate. We think this speculative outline planning application is totally misplaced and should be refused.
We consider that this proposal is not at all consistent with the Vision and Policies of the Blaby District Local Plan and neither is it consistent with the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
The site promoters justify this proposal on the grounds that "there is a substantial shortage of housing to meet the present and future needs of the community within the district of Blaby." This assertion is totally wrong and is not supported by the current official housing supply figures that show that the District has a five year supply of deliverable housing land and Blaby is already exceeding its targets for new housing using more sustainable sites.
Even if the District did not have an adequate five year supply of deliverable housing sites this particular site is not deemed to be suitable for development by the Local Planning Authority or the local community. The proposed development is against local and national planning policy.
The proposed development is not sustainable as claimed by the planning application which uses erroneous arguments to support its case. Also the proposed development would cause significant harm which would far outweigh any possible benefit.
This page contains a summary of our objections to this application that are based upon planning policy considerations and other "material considerations."
We think it is worthwhile referring to one or more of these key policy considerations when you register your objection by email, on-line or by letter, but please don’t hesitate to use your own points and arguments as well. We have produced some simple guidelines on how to register effective representations and objections.
Apart from our main objections summarised here there are many other good reasons to oppose this unwelcome and highly speculative proposal – look at other objections to see our current list with quotes from some of the many lovers of this area.
Here is a summary of our main planning policy and "material consideration" objections (CS refers to the Local Plan Core Strategy policies):-
1. Planning Policy on Countryside & the Requirement for New Housing (CS18) (CS5) (LSCA) (NPPF)
□ The site is designated as Countryside and this development proposal is not supported by planning policy on Countryside (CS18), which states that "Within areas designated as Countryside, planning permission will not be granted for built development, or other development which would have a significantly adverse effect on the appearance or character of the landscape."
We think it is clear that this proposal will have a significantly adverse effect on the landscape, in particular the appearance and setting of the Blaby Conservation Area, especially Bouskell Park which has an essentially rural parkland character with a strong perceived connection with the wider countryside. This proposed development would severely degrade Bouskell Park's rural character and its perceived connection to the wider countryside.
□ The proposal runs counter to the recommendations of the Blaby District Landscape and Settlement Character Assessment (LSCA) which has an important role in assessing the effect a development would have on the countryside's landscape.
□ Blaby District Council already have a 5 year supply of deliverable housing sites (as defined by the NPPF) to meet the District's requirements for new housing, so it is not necessary to support development proposals that do not align with planning policy.
□ A development of this size (over 200 dwellings) in this location is not justified by the outstanding housing requirement numbers for Blaby defined in Policy CS5, Housing Distribution.
2. Policy on Historic Environment and Culture, Conservation and Heritage (CS20) (CS2) (SHLAA)
□ The proposed site is next to the Blaby Conservation Area which is also designated an “open area of importance to the form and character of the built environment.” The proposed development is so close to the Conservation Area it would have a very adverse impact on the area and would be against policy on Historic Environment and Culture (CS20) which seeks to preserve and enhance the cultural heritage of the District and states that proposed development should avoid harm to the significance of historic sites, buildings or areas, including their setting.
□ Policy CS2 - Design of New Development has as one of its objectives "to protect the important areas of the District’s natural environment (species and habitats), landscape and geology and to improve biodiversity, wildlife habitats and corridors through the design of new developments...". The proposed development would have a significant negative impact on existing wildlife corridors and the wildlife habitat in and around Bouskell Park which is part of the Conservation Area. The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) also emphasises the importance of considering the impact any proposed development would have on the Conservation Area.
The following three objection points relate directly to these planning policies.
□ Blaby’s Bouskell Park which is part of the Conservation Area and just a few metres from the proposed housing site is regarded as the best historical site in the District.
□ Leicestershire County Council has classified the heritage potential of the site as High (Grade 1). It is immediately adjacent to the site of a medieval village - probably the original settlement of Blaby.
□ The Victorian Ice House (Grade II listed) and pond in Bouskell Park will loose all sense of place and context if they are just a few metres from a modern housing estate. We believe that no amount of interpretative panels and new infrastructure would be able to compensate for this fundamental and irretrievable loss of setting and context.
3. Loss of Valuable Green Space & Green Infrastructure (CS14) (CS15)
□ Building on this site is not consistent with policy on Green Infrastructure (CS14), which seeks to protect existing, and provide new ‘networks of multi-functional green spaces.’ The proposed development site represents a well developed and high quality multi-functional green space. It is crossed by a popular wooded permissive path (Long Walk), footpaths, a bridleway and a National Cycle Route (Guthlaxton Trail). It is an area loved and enjoyed by many local residents. In addition visitors travel from across the District and in some cases from across the country to enjoy the area and explore the District’s heritage.
The government have decided to protect “green space of special importance to local communities,” now called Local Green Spaces (LGS) - this area falls into this category and meets all the LGS selection criteria.
□ Building on this site is also not consistent with planning policy on Open Spaces, Sport and Recreation (CS15), which states that existing open space, sport and recreation facilities will be protected, and where possible enhanced. Development is allowed only if the area is surplus to requirements. In this case the area clearly has a very high amenity value as open space and is not surplus to requirements.
4. Prematurity of this Application with regard to Local Green Space Designation (NPPF)
□ We regard this application as inappropriate and premature as it could prejudice both current and emerging plans. Government introduced a new land designation in 2011 called Local Green Space. As soon as the new designation was announced there was widespread support for designating the area around Long Walk as a Local Green Space (LGS). Local residents, Parish Councils, wildlife conservation groups and District / County Councillors now support LGS designation for this special site.
Site specific planning issues such as LGS designation are covered by Neighbourhood Plans and Local Plans. Blaby Parish Council have indicated that they propose to protect this special Green Space in the Neighbourhood Plan (Blaby Plan) currently under development.
The application proposes a substantial development on this site that will have a significant impact on the future development of Blaby. If the application is approved prior to adoption of the Delivery DPD and the Neighbourhood Plan it could prejudice and undermine local plans by predetermining decisions about the scale and location of new development. In view of this, this application is considered to be premature and prejudicial to current and emerging plans.
5. Flood Risk & Climate Change (CS21)
□ This development could have an impact on local flooding risk. Blaby has had a problem with repeated flooding. The north of the Hall Farm Estate site is close to a floodplain and parts of the site (near Hospital Lane) are at high risk of surface water flooding. Large scale building on the site could result in increased local flooding risk on the site and more importantly elsewhere. Policy on Climate Change (CS21) and the NPPF refer to the importance of good site selection for new development.
□ Flooding of the River Sence and its tributaries often affect the road connections to Leicester, resulting in severe road congestion in and around Blaby as motorists attempt to find alternative routes. An extra 200 plus houses to the east of Blaby off Hospital Lane would make the situation worse, firstly because of the extra traffic that would discharge into Hospital Lane and secondly because increased water run-off rate from the site following extreme weather events is likely to increase the severity and frequency of flooding.
It is generally accepted that we should expect and plan for an increased frequency of extreme weather events because of climate change.
See more info to see the planning policy references and background to these objections.
Look at our other objections to see further reasons to protect Blaby’s “jewel in the crown” with quotes and comments from residents and visitors, but please don’t hesitate to use your own points when you register your objections.
Planning Application Reports: The Outline Planning Application will be accompanied by a number of documents and technical reports which will be available for public scrutiny, these should include:-
Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment
A bat survey
Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) and Drainage
Ecological Assessment (Phase 1 Extended Habitat Survey)
Statement of Community Involvement
We commented on the content of these reports (where they were available) as part of our Statement of Objection submitted to PINS. The reports commissioned by Gladman Developments were not made available before the formal submission of the planning application.