AGM – Monday 9th March 2020

This year’s AGM will take place at 7-30pm on Monday 9th March 2020 at the Toby Carvery, Forest Road, Loughborough, LE11 3HU. Please try and attend as we have had difficulty in achieving a quorum in some previous years.

Charnwood Local Plan (2019 – 36)

The consultation on the draft Charnwood Plan has produced some interesting comments from some of our members and others. An attempt at a summary of some of the comments appears below.

The threat to the area around the Outwoods is highlighted by many, along with advocating for more of the extra accommodation required to be located within current built up areas, rather than expanding onto green field sites. “The beauty of the Outwoods and this side of Charnwood Forest would be spoilt if this area were to be developed”.

Over many decades the "easy" option of adding to village and urban areas has been adopted.
This has resulted in:

  1. The danger of settlements merging and creating an ill defined suburban area which is difficult to service by public transport and tends to be wholly reliant of car transport.
  2. Villages grow beyond their natural size so they no longer provide a compact environment where people can walk everywhere and have a strong sense of community.
  3. New housing has been remote and the housing estates have often had single access by road requiring a long distance to be covered simply to leave the estate. These estates have often been impermeable to walkers and cyclists as there are no routes through. We must insist that provision for direct walking and cycling routes are included in all new estates so that it will often be simpler and quicker to walk or cycle than take the car.

The plan appears to be based on the assumption that we will continue living as we do now. However the growth in online shopping would suggest that there is no need to consider retail expansion and indeed there will probably be considerable overcapacity in the existing locations. This will provide locations that can be used for homes. The document defaults to referring to houses rather than homes or accommodation.

In addition home working and the introduction of driverless cars is likely to remove the need for car ownership when you can simply summon an appropriate vehicle via smart phone and pay per journey. This will free up an enormous area currently devoted to car parking for the development of homes. We need to look to build apartments (see towns and cities on the continent) which will enable a higher density of population and avoid the need to build on further green field sites that are remote from facilities. It is also suggested that all urban developments should be of 4 stories with the upper stories used for apartments (2/3/4/5 bedroom). The town centre would be much more attractive if it had a substantial balanced (not all students) resident population.

The need for additional housing is being driven more by a reduction in household size and increase in space per person than by population growth. We need to encourage people to downsize in both private and public sectors, once a family size home is no long required.

With an aging population it would be sensible to have a strategy of encouraging the elderly (before they become infirm) to move from more remote settlements (villages) into apartments in urban locations. Here they will have much easier access to services and medical assistance (as well as making it easier for health workers to reach them). This will free up homes in the villages for young families, improving the vitality of these communities.

New developments providing student accommodation should be required to provide a covered and secure bicycle parking space for every occupant and, as a condition of tenancy, require that student tenants do not keep a car within 25 miles of Loughborough. Exceptions would be allowed for those with mobility problems.

Challenges that appear to have been overlooked in the plan are:

Section 6.61 states “The town will be easy to access with a well-connected network of vehicular and pedestrian routes. Activity in the town will be supported by a range of events and innovative marketing, business and promotional strategies that will make Loughborough a great place to be.”

Suggest “a well-connected network of vehicular and pedestrian routes.” should be replaced with "a well-connected transport network ,including routes that will encourage active travel (cycling and walking) and discourage the use of cars to access the town.”

Section 8.7 states “We will expect major developments in the Borough to extend our walking and cycling network, particularly in our strategic developments. We will also explore opportunities for improved signage, safe well-lit routes and increased connectivity between built-up areas through green corridors. We will require our strategic developments set out in Policies CS19, CS20, CS21, CS22, CS23 and CS24 to be accompanied by appropriate Travel Plans, which will need to be target driven and effectively monitored."

Section 8.13 states “Across the Borough we will seek to achieve a 6% shift away from travel by private car."

This target lacks ambition. A shift of 6% over a 15 year period amounts 0.4% each year. The target for shift away from private car should be at least 20%. Take a look at the Netherlands or Denmark for what can be achieved. Loughborough is largely flat and of a size where all areas are within a reasonable cycle ride. We should be aiming at emulating the university city of Groningen - see this YouTube video. It seems to have been forgotten that the majority of car journeys are below 5 miles, a distance that is easily cycled.

In looking to increase the level of cycle use, the plan ignores how our buildings can affect our transport choices and hence our use of energy. Motorised transport accounts for a considerable proportion of carbon dioxide emissions. If we are to increase sustainable active travel (good for both the environment and our health) we need to make active travel the easiest option and reduce the convenience of car travel.

The layout of our buildings can affect the transport choices of inhabitants. Currently the requirements for parking tend to put a car immediately outside the front door, so making it the obvious transport choice. No provision is made for cycle parking, meaning that bicycles are often parked in garden sheds and are not easily accessible. Hence they are only taken out when a deliberate decision is made to go for a cycle ride. If people are to use bicycles this needs to be the easiest option. Car parking and garaging should be in a separate area of new estates, so that reaching the car will involve a walk. Secure, accessible, covered cycle parking built into the home should be a requirement for all new developments, the number of slots being linked to the number of bedrooms. (Single bedroom 2 slots, 4 bedroom 6 slots etc.) These slots would have electric points to facilitate charging electric bikes and could also be used for mobility scooters.

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