Employment Land Proposal

Application Approved on 3rd September 2019

Those speaking at, and observing the Planning Committee experienced a devastating evening.  Officers told us that the application had to be judged against the Local Plan policies as a whole – but all they talked about was that Jaguar Land Rover wanted the site.  Objectors made valid planning arguments based on the lack of sustainable transport to the site – and hence its impact on local and national climate change commitments; impact on high grade agricultural land; development in the countryside and impact on landscape and sense of place between the villages.  Councillors failed to explore these issues and officers did not acknowledge that these were areas where there was legitimate debate.  Rushing this application through, with only a few days notice to the very large numbers of Parish Councils and individual objectors, also added to the impression that this was a foregone conclusion and no one was listening to what we had to say.

As objectors have no right of appeal it is difficult to know what options remain.

We can also expect that this huge and inappropriate development will lead to further speculative applications on local countryside.

Over 70 people met in No Man’s Heath on 28th August

The group agreed on the importance of contacting Councillors on Planning Committee to explain their concerns and objections.  You can find out how to do this below.  This is important to ensure they understand the strength of view and because only a few objectors will be able to speak at the meeting.  Everyone was encouraged to also join a protest from 5 pm on 3rd September outside the council offices (Whitwick Rd, Coalville) where the press and TV will attend, before joining those observing the planning meeting.

There are ideas of points to make below.  You can also download a report RAPM Objection submission Final submitted as an objection from Residents Against Project Mercia.  Appleby Environment’s submission can also be found below.

Planning Committee Tuesday 3rd September at 5.30 pm – Officers recommending approval

At a time when many people are on holiday Planning Officers have published a 90 page document ( Planning Committee, 03_09_2019 17_30 ) – to go with the hundreds of documents already associated with this application.  This recommends that councillors approve the application with only a week’s notice.

The applicants themselves say that there will be major adverse effects on the character of the area.  This is planning grounds for refusing the application but officers conclude that this would be ‘acceptable’.  They say that screening will reduce visual impact but this in itself changes the landscape character.  They completely ignore their own policy which says that the open undeveloped character between settlements must not be undermined through “development on isolated sites on land divorced from settlement boundaries”.

The report claims that demand is demonstrated by Jaguar Land Rover signing a contract to occupy part of the site – but officers have made no independent assessment of the claim that this is the only possible location.  JLR want to consolidate (i.e. moving jobs from one site to another) aspects of their Midlands operation sending parts all over the UK and abroad – something which can only be done by road from this site.  Yet the officers say this will not cause traffic problems or impact on the District’s climate change commitments or their policy which says there must be sustainable transport options for such a development.  The applicants claim new bus routes from 2 locations will reduce employees’ need to access the site by car when it is clear they will come from a wide range of locations.

There is an unprecedented level of opposition to this proposal including from 16 parish councils, 3 local MPs, North Warwickshire Borough Council, and 431 ‘individuals’ (which includes Appleby Environment and a community group based in No Man’s Heath, both representing local residents).

What can be done?

In the few days left the most useful thing to do is to contact members of council who sit on the Planning Committee to express your opposition (see our letter of objection below if you want further arguments) and asking them to vote against this proposal.  You can find their details (emails and phone numbers) here .  You could also contact our District councillor Richard Blunt who is not a member of the committee but has a right to speak to it.  You might also ask Andrew Bridgen our MP why he is the only local MP who has not objected to this application.

Appleby Magna Industrial Estate?

Appleby Environment objections can be downloaded here. Appleby Environment objections to 18 01443 FULM.

map of warehouse site

This map shows the extent of the proposal in comparison to the size of Appleby.  Its impact on the countryside is clear.  Please lodge your objections now. The official deadline was August 28th but officers are likely to continue to accept your objections until the application is determined.

How to make an objection

See below for how to view the application and its over 120 associated documents.  You can submit your objections online (need to register first) or via email (or post).  Make sure you say that you object (assuming you do!) otherwise your submission may just be treated as comments.  Stress what is important to you and where possible use your own words and arguments as this will carry more weight.  You can also copy your objections to our district councillor Richard Blunt (richard.blunt@nwleicestershire.gov.uk) and to members of the planning committee.  There is a handy app on the NW Leicestershire site  which gives all their emails in a file which allows you to send messages via mailmerge.

It is also important that your objections are on valid planning grounds. The relevant document is the recently adopted NWL Local plan which you can find on their website.  This defines the land in question as countryside (outside existing settlements) where specific planning policies apply.  The developers said in their exhibition that it wasn’t ‘green belt’.  Nowhere in NW Leicestershire is green belt because this applies to the edge of large urban settlements.  But it is countryside where development is not normally permitted (policy S3). There are some exceptions but this development does not meet them.  Nor does it meet the criteria for a new employment site (policy Ec2).

Specific arguments you can make:

  • There is no evidence of need.  There is a formal process for assessing need which councils have to follow. All 9 councils in Leicestershire issued a joint statement in March 2018 as part of the strategic joint plan to say that they had met the identified need for employment land.  NW Leicestershire has contributed significantly to this particular type of development through the allocation of land near E Midlands Airport / Junction 24 M1.
  •   There are no sustainable transport links.  It is a condition of new employment sites and any permitted development in the countryside that they should be accessible by a choice of transport including sustainable transport modes.  For employees this normally means bus routes, for freight it would normally mean rail links (as there are at Airport site).  There is no rail link to the proposed site which means all goods will need to be moved by HGVs.  There is no current bus route to the site.  Employees can be expected to come from a wide range of locations meaning that it is not plausible to put on buses that will take the majority of employees.  The developers acknowledge this in their allocation of 2235 parking spaces in their application.
  • It does not safeguard or enhance the landscape.  If development is permitted in the countryside it is a requirement that it should not degrade the landscape (policy S3(i)).  The relevant landscape is defined as Mease / Sense Lowlands by Natural England (the designated Government body).  The landscape is defined as remote, rural and tranquil.  The proposed development would destroy this through the loss of arable farmland, construction of buildings which are inappropriately large and of unsuitable appearance to their setting, and the creation of a new built area out of scale to nearby settlements.

The application has now been submitted.  You can view the details on the NW Leicestershire website.  This is the link to the introductory page – you need to tick the terms and conditions box at the bottom and press continue to proceed.  Then put the application number 18/01443/FULM into the search box to be taken to the application documents.

To make comments online you need to register and log in.  But you can also email or post your response direct to the Planning Department at NW Leicestershire.  The officer managing the application is James Knightley, james.knightley@nwleicestershire.gov.uk.  If you object to this application it is important to say this in your response (rather than just saying you are commenting).  They are giving August 28th as the deadline – which is very short during the holiday season.  It is important to respond to this stage – any comments you made to the developers will not count at this stage.

An article in the Leicester Mercury includes some of our objections to this application.  We will post additional basis for objection here shortly.

Pre-Application Process

IM Properties undertook a pre-application consultation on a huge ‘employment park’ at Junction 11 of the M42. It is on the countryside between the A444 towards Burton and the road to Tamworth. It reaches halfway to No Man’s Heath in one direction and Stretton en le field in the other (240 acres).

There were consultation events in Measham and Appleby.  If you have missed them you can see the information boards they presented here.  But this is their presentation – we now have fuller details via their application documents.

North West Leicestershire District Council have recently adopted a new local plan. This designates this land as countryside. It is not allocated for employment development and does not meet the criteria for new sites. We have a nearby appropriate employment site in Measham.

Local Plan policies say that any land to be allocated for new employment uses has to be accessible by a choice of means of transport. This site is only accessible by car. There is no public transport to the site from any places where employees are likely to live.

All the roads around Junction 11 are already congested on a regular basis. The developers are working on the assumption that the site will create 3,000 jobs and this will mean that between 7a.m. and 7p.m. there will be 5,667 car and 1,116 HGV movements. For some reason these assumptions don’t appear on their information boards! The developers say that this will not cause extra traffic problems because they will put traffic lights around junction 11.

Other portions of land around Junction 11 have been sold recently under the label of ‘Strategic Land’. If the IM development goes ahead we can expect more applications at other parts of the road junction.

With the disruption at the Junction promised by HS2 the chances of attracting high quality tenants for this site is questionable.

Consultation responses to the developers are required by 5pm on 28th July 2018. You might also want to tell the Parish Council what you think.