Harborough is at “breaking point” after the district’s seen one of the most dramatic population booms in England, a senior councillor is insisting.
The blunt warning is being issued by veteran district councillor Phil Knowles as he reacted to the latest census data.
Cllr Knowles spoke out as it emerged that 97,600 people were living in Harborough district on census day.
That’s shot up by 14 per cent from 85,382 in 2011 when the last census was carried out.
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This is the 17th highest spike in the country.
The population density has climbed to 165 residents per square kilometre, up from 144 in 2011.
“These figures are a real eye-opener.
“Market Harborough, especially, is creaking.
“The town, as well as the entire Harborough district, is close to breaking point,” said Cllr Knowles, who leads the Liberal Democrats on Harborough District Council.
“Enough is enough.
“1,000 new homes brings in about 3,500 more people and sticks another 2,000 or so cars on our roads.
“I’ve been warning for some time now that we can’t go on like this.
“Our infrastructure and services are coming under tremendous pressure.
“Our medical centres, cottage hospitals, dentist’s, schools, nurseries, roads and car parks are all having to work flat out.
“But how much longer can they cope?
“We’ve got so many new housing developments going ahead.
“And the chances are we’ll have some overspill from Leicester being fired into the mix here as well,” said Cllr Knowles.
“The Government and our own district council have got to think of the needs of the people who already live here as well as the people moving here.
“They’ve got to get their balance right.
“So it’s high time that the Government puts a brake on new housing going up here in Harborough for the moment.
“They’ve got to stand back and build homes in other less-crowded parts of the country instead.
“We have had enough new homes built in Harborough over the last few years – and there are still hundreds being built as we speak.”
But Cllr Phil King, who heads up Harborough council, told us: “This is no time for kneejerk reactions.
“Cllr Knowles knows full well that we can’t just stop new developments going ahead.
“The Government gives us a target every year to deliver new homes, affordable homes and homes for rent,” said the Conservative council boss.
“We have to build a minimum of 534 homes this year.
“We do have a Local Plan now and we are exceeding our five-year housing supply.
“That gives us real control as we go forward.
“We know that a lot of the population growth has come from over-65s.
“We have also got younger families and children coming into Harborough as well,” said Cllr King.
“We have got superb transport and logistic links and connections here in the heart of the country and we are a very attractive area to move into.
“Now we have to analyse these latest census figures and see exactly what they mean for Harborough district as we plan ahead alongside the county council and other partner agencies.”