Harborough MP calls on district council to reject plans to take on Leicester's housing overspill

The proposals would increase Harborough's future housing numbers by a quarter.The proposals would increase Harborough's future housing numbers by a quarter.
The proposals would increase Harborough's future housing numbers by a quarter.
The plan aims to build an extra 123 homes in Harborough every year until 2036

Harborough MP Neil O’Brien is calling on district council leaders to reject plans for the district to make up for Leicester’s housing gap.

The proposed ‘Strategic Growth Plan’ would aim to build an extra 123 homes in Harborough every year until 2036, to make up for housing which the city has not managed to deliver within its own boundaries.

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The number is around a quarter more houses each year than if Harborough district was solely meeting its own needs.

Mr O’Brien said that instead of regenerating the many run-down and brownfield sites around Leicester, the city council expects Harborough and other districts to deliver on its behalf.

He added: “This would mean that we would have to build more overall than any other district other than Charnwood.

“This dumping of the city’s housing need on us is unfair. The council in Harborough went through a detailed process to put its local plan in place, and it is one of relatively few councils which has an up-to-date plan and is judged to be delivering for the needs of its own residents.”

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He also argues the plan impacts negatively on the environment since there would be more congestion with people commuting from Leicester and that regeneration in the city was a better solution.

However, he is positive the decision won’t stand.

He added: “The good news is that there is no need for Harborough to sign up to this plan when it comes for a decision this summer. When I was a minister in the housing department I took through legislation last year which abolished the longstanding “Duty to Cooperate”, a piece of legislation the city were trying to use to put pressure on Harborough to take on their housing need.

“A number of members of the multi-party coalition running Harborough campaigned against additional housing development in the district in recent elections and criticised the Strategic Plan itself. So when votes come I hope and expect that they will now stand up to the city, and insist that Leicester meets its own housing need, rather than dumping it on us in Harborough.”

Cllr Phil Knowles, leader of Harborough District Council, said he welcomes the letter from Mr O’ Brien and is “looking forward to exploring opportunities to work together to deliver the best for residents”.

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But he said the letter raises a few issues, adding: “In the letter Mr O’ Brien indicates that 'there are several brownfield sites around Leicester that would be perfect for development, but these have not been properly considered.' If he will tell me where these sites are then I will arrange for the necessary challenges to be made to the city and seek evidence of their consideration process.

“The letter also shares detail that whilst Mr O’ Brien was a Minister at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities he 'took through legislation last year which abolished the long standing ''Duty to Cooperate'. As such there is no longer need to take on this additional housing.' I would very much appreciate the date when this Duty to Cooperate was abolished as that is very important.”

"I would also appreciate details of what if anything is replacing the Duty to Cooperate and how it will impact on Local Plan considerations, submissions and approval/acceptance in the future? If the Duty to Cooperate no longer exists then that cannot be used to reject a new Local Plan."