Controversial plan to build houses instead of shops in Fleckney has been approved despite objections

A CGI image of some of the homes being built in FleckneyA CGI image of some of the homes being built in Fleckney
A CGI image of some of the homes being built in Fleckney
The developer said was a “lack of interest” in the proposed retail spaces and instead opted to build houses in the space

A controversial plan to build houses on land originally earmarked for new shops has been approved, despite objections from residents.

The application to build eight, semi-detached houses, a public car park and a community square on land next to Fleckney’s High Street was approved by Harborough District Council at a meeting on Tuesday.

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Planning permission was given in early 2020 to build flats and a public plaza on the site, which would have been made up of a number of shops and local businesses. But the developer, Besh Limited, changed its mind, stating there was a “lack of interest” in the proposed retail spaces and instead opted to build houses in the space.

More than 40 objections were submitted to the council from residents, many of whom said the plans should not have been changed and that the facilities would be needed. Others said the new houses were not necessary and that residents had been “neglected”.

The developer said in planning documents: “There is no justified need for retail units in this location, and they would be unlikely to be let, as demonstrated through the lack of market interest. This creates the possibility of vacant retail units and flats that could be better utilised as family homes.

“We consider that the proposed mix of two and three bedroom houses with associated gardens will better cater for the needs of local people, and will provide appropriate accommodation to different types of people, including first time buyers, young families and older people wishing to downsize.”

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Members of the district council’s planning committee met on Tuesday to discuss the application and concluded it should be approved, despite villagers attending the meeting to voice their objections. Tina Mcdonagh, of Fleckney Parish Council, said the village had grown by nearly 25 per cent in recent years because of new housing schemes.

She said: “We have not seen any extra facilities or infrastructure provision since, particularly in the village centre. It is clear that residents are having to make unsustainable, short car journeys to access services. This scheme does not reflect the flexible community space this village needs and believe the plan could potentially lead to an area that encourages anti-social behaviour and negatively impacts residents.”

Objecting Fleckney resident William Packer also addressed the committee. He said: “I have lived in the village for around 75 years and as you can imagine I have seen it grow out of all proportion, no more so than in the last few years due to the building of housing estates. The area in the High Street is the last chance to develop the centre of the village.

“This is not for the benefit of the village, but for the developer’s margins, and no matter what incentives they have offered in compensation, it will not provide the much needed regeneration of the village centre.”

Despite these objections and four councillors voting to reject the plan, the committee voted in a majority decision to give the applicant permission to build the new houses.

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