'Vital' decision on whether Harborough should take Leicester's extra housing need is delayed until November

The MPs have been requested to meet with the council in person to debate the matter.The MPs have been requested to meet with the council in person to debate the matter.
The MPs have been requested to meet with the council in person to debate the matter.
It would increase local house building targets by a quarter

The decision on whether Market Harborough should take on Leicester’s unmet housing need has been delayed until November.

Harborough District Council met last night to discuss taking on property needs from the city which would increase local house building targets by a quarter.

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Leicester City Council is urging district leaders to approve a ‘statement of common ground’ which would see more than 1,500 additional homes built in the district over the next 13 years.

So far, seven out of nine authorities have signed the statement.

Harborough District Council says the authorities in Leicestershire are bound by duty to cooperate and if it does not sign the statement of common ground, it will be unlikely to get the next Local Plan, which allocates sites for housing, adopted - putting the district at risk of speculative planning applications.

Should the statement be approved, the Local Plan would need to be revised by 2025.

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However, after arguments from all three district MPs, and a petition launched by MP Neil O’Brien signed by some 2,000 residents, the decision has been put on hold until November 6.

Mr O’Brien responded to the outcome: "It is amazing that over 2,000 people have signed up to my petition against this huge increase in our house building target, and I think it is the strength of local feeling that has made the council delay the decision until November 6.

“But everything we are hearing from the council suggests they are still bent on signing up to this unfair increase in November. So our campaign will continue and I hope that the clear and growing opposition of residents to this will eventually force the council leader to change his mind.

“They have never come up with an explanation that holds water of why they think the council are required to sign up to this, and still haven't tonight."

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Conversely, council Leader Phil Knowles put a challenge to the three MPs, asking them to explain their argument against the extra housing.

He said: “Our three MPs have been shared in their claims that we don’t need to sign, suggesting no negatives on the Local Plan if we refrain from signing, which have extended to logical conclusion, I would suggest, portrays no possibility for an indefensible Local Plan and a developers’ free for all.

“In moving this deferral, I include a challenge to all three MPs to get out from behind the computer keyboards, get out Market Harborough to this chamber and for the three to meet, discuss and debate the whole evidence base with me as leader of this authority and councillor, and Cllr Simon Galton as cabinet lead.

“Please try to prove the officers’ case wrong. Question the officers’ evidence. Please test and try to prove the Conservative support to be wrong. Then, importantly, please help us, and I mean this quite sincerely, to understand the argument and claims you are making. This is a vital decision for the whole of the district.”