Let battle commence... opposition to Rugby Borough Council’s Local Plan has been gathering momentum and the official time to speak out starts today.
The latest version of the plan has a few tweaks but still includes thousands of homes on green fields between Bilton and Dunchurch, plus the surprise addition of a garden village planned in open countryside near Grandborough.
Add in other proposals around the borough and there has been mounting criticism, with existing and new protest groups coming together under the umbrella organisation About Turn to co-ordinate the fight.
The critical consultation period opens today, Monday, September 26 and will run until Friday, November 11. Details of how to comment and the relevant paperwork are on the council’s website.
The council said its plans are a response to national targets but protesters say with more than 6,000 homes to be built at the masts site, Rugby is being asked to take too many homes, including some Coventry hasn’t got room for - and the proposals are flawed.
The council kicked off a series of consultations last Wednesday, in Newton, continued on Thursday, at Ashlawn School from 6-8pm and are ongoing - the full list is on the council website.
This Wednesday, September 28, sees two big meetings. An official consultation will be part of the Rugby Town West Community Forum at Bilton Methodist Church from 6.30-8pm.
That same evening three of the groups which are part of About Turn will be holding a meeting at Dunchurch Village Hall at 7.30pm.
The three are Stop Ashlawn Road Development, the Woodlands Residents’ Association and Stand Against Lodge Farm Village.
About Turn spokesman Richard Allanach said its meeting would point out the consequences of the Local Plan’s measures and give people tips on how to complete the official consultation documents.
He added: “It is good to see how local groups are now working together to get a better plan for our area than the one proposed by the borough council.”
Cllr Heather Timms, the borough council’s portfolio holder for growth and investment, said: “This latest stage of consultation is another opportunity for all residents and interested parties to outline how they think the council should plan for the housing and employment growth that the national policy says that we must accommodate.
“All consultation responses made by the closing date will be considered and made available to a local plan inspector to examine, so it really is important that everybody makes their contribution now.”
The reason this stage is critical is that following consultation, the publication draft will be reconsidered by councillors who will be asked to approve the document to go to the next stage - submission to a planning inspector, taking it another step closer to being official policy.
In total, the proposed plan includes development targets of 12,400 dwellings between 2011 and 2031 across the borough - including the masts site - along with 110 hectares of employment land.
It proposes a range of infrastructure improvements to cope with the growth.