Crucial meeting to decide Harborough housing plans

A view of the Airfield Farm site from the Gartree Road. The rear of Harborough Innovation Centre is on the left
A view of the Airfield Farm site from the Gartree Road. The rear of Harborough Innovation Centre is on the left

One of Market Harborough’s key planning meetings of the decade will be held next month to consider plans for nearly 1,500 homes to the north-west of the town.

The extraordinary meeting of Harborough Council’s planning committee will be held in the larger venue of Harborough Market, in Northampton Road, to allow more members of the public to attend.

Up for discussion are the 924-home Airfield Farm development, off Leicester Road, Market Harborough; the 119-home estate planned off Lubenham Hill; and the 450-home Manor Farm site, off Leicester Road.

All three estates have been fitted into the town’s strategic development area masterplan, approved by the council in 2013.

Now councillors are looking at each individual planning application.

The three plans are colloquially known together as the “Airfield Farm homes plan” but they are actually three separate applications.

The three estates combine to give a huge expanse of new houses in the town, extending from Lubenham Road in the west, right round to Leicester Road in the north-west.

Plans for the 924-home and 450-home applications are both at outline stage – meaning just a broad permission is granted in principal.

The 119-home site is further along and is asking for full permission, with all the fine details surrounding housing density and material types.

Plans also include construction of a new access bridge across the Grand Union Canal and demolition of a footbridge.

Cllr Phil King, deputy leader of the Tory-run Harborough Council and the council’s portfolio holder responsible for planning and development, said: “These plans are for the provision of local homes over the next 15 years and we are working hard to ensure this masterplan site meets the needs of the district.”

Lib Dem district council opposition leader Cllr Phil Knowles said he was concerned about the pressure on Harborough’s infrastructure that building 1,500 homes will bring. He added: “I’m also concerned this council’s budget is propped up by £2million from a New Homes bonus scheme.

“Is planning being driven by financial need rather than planning requirement?”

But Cllr King said: “The new homes bonus is from a coalition Government.

“If Cllr Knowles doesn’t want us to use it, I’d like to hear from him where we should make the cuts.

“In fact, where are his alternative budget proposals?”

The meeting starts at 6.30pm on Monday, March 2, and all are welcome.