Campaigners say modifications to Rugby's Local Plan do not go far enough

The examination in public of the Local Plan at the Benn Hall. Following these hearings a series of changes have been proposed to the document by the planning inspector.
The examination in public of the Local Plan at the Benn Hall. Following these hearings a series of changes have been proposed to the document by the planning inspector.

Rugby’s divisive Local Plan is set to be subject to 183 main modifications ahead of a new round of public consultations but campaigners argue more needs to be done.

Campaigners and residents welcomed the modifications, but some argued the overall plan is still flawed.

Campaigner Richard Allanach said: “We welcome the council finally returning its Lodge Farm plans to the dustbin.

“The 183 changes the council is proposing will make it a better plan but not yet a good plan.

“The council is still proposing five thousand extra houses for South West Rugby without showing how the extra traffic can be accommodated, air quality improved or even when the necessary schools will be built."

Mike Judge, of campaign group Save Dunchurch, said Rugby council has treated residents with 'disdain', and Dunchurch residents will have to suffer increased traffic and pollution resulting from the South West Rugby development and planned warehouse sites.

The borough council is expected to approve the modifications at a cabinet meeting on Monday, August 13.

Subject to approval, the modifications will then be discussed at a series of public consultations headed by government-appointed inspector Mike Hayden.

The modifications are a result of the findings of inspector Mr Hayden and individual points raised during the previous Local Plan consultations.

The changes come after the tireless campaigning of groups including SALFV (Stand Against Lodge Farm Village), the Woodlands Residents Association, Friends of Lime Tree Avenue Association, Save Dunchurch and Campaign to Protect Rural England - Warwickshire.

Mr Allanach questioned what action Rugby Borough Council has taken to keep the public informed of the plan’s evolution.

He said: “The council is holding an eight-week consultation period but is not proposing any events, exhibitions or meetings to help the public get to grips with its 327-page document and understand what the changes mean for them.”

Cllr Sebastian Lowe, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for Growth and Investment, said: “Residents and other interested parties have had many opportunities to contribute to the Local Plan, including through the examination hearings held earlier this year.

“Depending on the inspector’s findings, this formal consultation period may be the last opportunity to influence the plan so it really is important that residents contribute their thoughts on the changes that have been proposed.”

The number of modifications proposed exceed the number for Nuneaton and Bedworth’s plan at 174, and far outweigh the main modifications for Stratford’s plan (92) and Warwick’s plan (75).

Cllr Lowe said: “The need for modifications at this stage of the process is quite normal and is a reflection of the inspector’s recommendations, and also the changes proposed or accepted during the examination process.

"The number of main modifications is comparable to that of Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, for example, which recently approved consultation on changes to its plan.”

The proposed modifications include the removal of the Lodge Farm, Coton House and Brinklow housing plans – with additional housing on the proposed allocations at Long Lawford and Binley Woods to compensate.

It is also proposed that additional protection be given to the Brandon Stadium site, and land should be set aside for two years in case it is needed for a possible secondary school at Coton Park East.

The consultation period, begins on Tuesday August 14, ending on Friday, October 5.

Rugby Council said the consultation will seek the views of residents, businesses, developers, parish councils and any other interested parties on changes that were proposed during the public examination of the plan, which took place earlier this year.

If the inspector finds the Local Plan meets all the legal tests, the plan will be considered by a meeting of the whole council.

The Local Plan sets out where in the Rugby Borough housing and employment land should be allocated and identifies the supporting infrastructure that will be needed until 2031.

In its draft form it was approved by Rugby Council in June 2017 – after a lively debate and opposition from some residents.

The plan allocates sites throughout the borough to deliver 12,400 homes by 2031, with space for up to 15,000 homes. It also allocates 110 hectares of employment land and more than 8,000 square metres of retail space.

In May this year it emerged that the two chief architects of the plan, officer Rob Back and Cllr Heather Timms , were set to step down after inspector Mr Hayden wrote to Rugby Council with a number of issues with the plan. The council said this had nothing to do with the inspector’s letter.

See www.rugby.gov.uk/localplan to learn more about the Local Plan.