Future of Rugby: new look for huge mast site proposal

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The future of Rugby has been unveiled this week in a series of new plans, diagrams and illustrations of the planned 6,200-home mast site development.

The extension will be built on the vast expanse of land between Hillmorton, DIRFT, and Clifton and is expected to home around 14,600 people - an increase of Rugby town’s population by 18 per cent. It will contain a secondary school, three primary schools, 31 hectares (around 40 football pitches) of employment land and is expected to take around 20 years to build, probably starting in 2015.

The last plans submitted caused alarm among some in Hillmorton and Clifton, who feared the development’s links with Rugby town centre might overwhelm existing main roads through the villages. Developers say the new plans have taken into account people’s concerns and a six week consultation will begin on tomorrow, ending at the end of October.

Cllr Craig Humphrey, Rugby Borough Council Leader, said: “The borough council is generally supportive of this and the long term benefits in terms of boosting the town centre, creating jobs and providing a real answer to the national housing crisis.

“The biggest advantage of building on the mast site is that it’s an allocated site, meaning planners can make sure the population will have all the services they need in terms of things like health care and schools. You don’t get an opportunity to plan in that much detail with other speculative housing developments.”

The plans, which have been submitted by Rugby Radio Station Limited Partnership RRSLP (the joint venture including BT and Aviva Investors), contain many amendments to the original. In the revised plans the main road linking the development to Rugby town centre connects to Clifton Road near Butler’s Leap, but there are also links directly onto the A5 and parts of Hillmorton.

Cllr Leigh Hunt, of Clifton, said: “With regards to the impact this is going to have on residents in Clifton and Hillmorton it seems the most important issue is timing. If the developers don’t put in the link roads and traffic calming measures before the development comesd along then it will make life a misery for people in those parts of Rugby affect by heavy extra traffic.

“The traffic situation in Clifton is already horrendous, and it’s vital the developers get this right so that it doesn’t get any worse.”.

According to RRSLP, the additional information also responds to the submitted application for a Development Consent Order for the development of DIRFT III (occupying land predominantly east of the A5), the consented scheme for a new Sainsbury’s distribution centre on DIRFT II and updated technical assessments of topics including green infrastructure, public open space and development specification.

Neil McLeod of Aviva Investors said: “Submitting this package of Additional Information to Rugby Borough Council moves us another important step closer towards unlocking the potential of the Radio Station site. All of the responses we have received throughout our own consultation and engagement with the community over many years have helped us to shape our outline planning application and these final refinements to it.

“We have now clarified some important details – like the location of the Link Road – and we are looking forward to Rugby Borough Council completing its own consultation on the scheme ahead of bringing it before its Planning Committee later this year.”

Steve Pell of BT Group Property added: “Rugby is growing and the Radio Station site is earmarked to support that future successful and sustainable growth. We are working hard to present our application to RBC as fully and comprehensively as possible so that, subject to planning permission being granted, we can deliver the best possible regeneration of the Radio Station site to achieve the best possible results for Rugby.”

The Additional Information will be available for review via RBC’s Planning Portal (Search for Application Reference R11/0699). Comments or questions about the Additional Information and this consultation should be addressed to Steve Parkes or Greg Vigars, Development Team, Rugby Borough Council, Town Hall, Evreux Way, Rugby, by email on planning@rugby.gov.uk or by telephone on 01788 533633 or 533621. A date for the planning committee is yet to be set but is anticipated to take place within the next four months.