Homes plan at centre of council deputy’s sacking up for debate

Cllr Blake Pain
Cllr Blake Pain

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to make changes to a major planning document adopted just 12 months ago will be thrashed out on Monday.

Harborough District Council will consider commissioning a fresh study into the number of homes needed in the district when members meet on Monday.

It comes after council leader Michael Rook sacked his deputy Blake Pain last week in a row over plans for 1,800 homes on Airfield Farm, north-west of Harborough.

The council’s Core Strategy planning document, adopted last November, earmarked the land for up to 1,000 homes, but a new masterplan for the area put together this year raises that figure to 1,800.

Cllr Rook says changes in national policy and increased housing targets mean the council needs to replace the document with a Local Plan, which could result in the building of an extra 1,000 homes in addition to the present 7,700 planned over the next 25 years.

He says the changes are needed so the council can maintain the power to refuse planning applications they feel are not in the interests of the district.

But Cllr Pain, who represents Lubenham ward in which the majority of the 1,800 homes would go, has described the plan as a ‘sledgehammer, driven by a few to increase the number of houses in the district.’

He has received support from Edward Garnier MP, and people have also written to the Mail to express their anger at his sacking.

A statement from the council this week said: “Since the Core Strategy was developed, a housing assessment has been prepared for Leicestershire that suggests the number of houses built in future should be higher than Harborough is currently providing for.

“A Local Plan would allocate land in the district for residential, employment, leisure and other uses. It would provide a high level policy on how the council would get developers to pay for the new infrastructure needed to support these land uses.”

4 Cllr Graham Spendlove-Mason has now been appointed deputy leader while Cllr Chris Holyoak has taken Cllr Pain’s health and community portfolio on the executive.