REACTION: Rugby Local Plan approved including Lodge Farm

One of the many Lodge Farm protests. NNL-170620-121654001
One of the many Lodge Farm protests. NNL-170620-121654001

The plan for where up to 15,000 houses will be placed in Rugby borough was taken to the next stage as the Local Plan was approved tonight (Wednesday, June 21), including the controversial Lodge Farm proposal.

The Benn Hall was filled with many angry residents hoping the plan would be amended or even better scrapped, but they left disappointed as councillors voted in favour of the draft plan after a lively debate.

It will now be sent to the Secretary of State which will lead to a public hearing before an inspector, so campaigners will have another shot at fighting it.

Council leader Michael Stokes said the right decision was taken tonight despite voicing his opposition to Lodge Farm, which would plonk 1,500 homes in the south of the borough.

“We made the right decision tonight, the plan is sound and I hoped to give residents a chance to fight their position,” he said.

The amendment to remove Lodge Farm from the plan was narrowly defeated by 20 votes to 18.

John Tautu from campaign group Stand Against Lodge Farm Village, which has previously said they would consider a legal challenge if Lodge Farm was not removed from the plan, said: “I hope they have got a good lawyer. People’s voices have been silenced, that just cannot be right.”

Cllr Emma Crane (Con), who proposed the amendment to remove Lodge Farm from the plan, said: “I’m disappointed it was not successful but it doesn’t change any of my views.

“I still think it’s unsustainable and it’s not the end of the story.”

Allocating sites throughout the borough to deliver 12,400 homes by 2031, with space for up to 15,000 homes, the submission Local Plan also allocates 110 hectares of employment land and more than 8000 square metres of retail space.

The plan will be submitted to the Secretary of State in July.

An independently-appointed government inspector will then call an examination in public, expected to take place later this year.

The inspector decides which issues require special hearings and will invite speakers to present relevant evidence.

Portfolio holder for growth and investment Cllr Heather Timms said: “Submitting the Rugby Borough Local Plan to the Secretary of State is a significant step towards delivering planned, sustainable growth with the supporting roads and other infrastructure that we need.

“It also places us in a stronger position when dealing with unplanned speculative development.

“If the inspector agrees the plan is sound, we hope to bring it before the council to adopt in spring, 2018.”

For full analysis, see next week’s paper and the website.