Statement about the Melton Distributor RoadPublished Wednesday, 25th March 2020
Yesterday Leicestershire County Council approved a Cabinet report in relation to the southern section of the Distributor Road which suggested that they will be unable to accept the Housing Infrastructure Fund due to the absence of a ‘masterplan’ for the housing developments which are required to support it. A ‘masterplan’ is an agreement between developers, local authorities and other infrastructure providers to ensure that any new housing is properly supported with appropriate infrastructure, funding and delivery plans.
The Cabinet report contained a number of assertions regarding the approach taken by Melton Borough Council (MBC) in developing masterplans which Melton Borough Council considers to be both misleading and inaccurate. Throughout all the discussions MBC have sought to operate in a partnership with the County Council and as recently as last week, offered to establish a joint management board, including Homes England to unblock any issues that were preventing progress.
Leader of Melton Borough Council; Cllr Joe Orson said; “At a time when the country and our public services need to pull together it is hugely disappointing that the County Council have chosen to act in this way. As a Council we have worked hard to support delivery of the MMDR and have made a commitment to provide £6m of local funding towards it, as well as continually seeking to work in partnership with the County Council. We were, even on the day Cabinet met, putting together a plan for how we could work with the County Council to resolve the current issues with the masterplan and find a way we can work together to meet this difficult challenge.”
The County Council Cabinet report identifies a number of key issues which have hindered progress, most notably the inability to identify adequate provision for an additional secondary school with the town. This is the main reason the masterplan on the southern section has failed to progress. MBC has provided 5 options to County Council colleagues and developers for where a new secondary school could go; each of which were deemed to be unsuitable by the County Council, with no credible alternative options provided.
The Melton Local Plan was adopted in October 2018. Following the adoption of the Plan, in January 2019 the Council moved quickly towards a delivery strategy, recognising that a policy compliant, viable and deliverable masterplan can only be developed if all stakeholders agree; including the County Council, MBC, developers and other infrastructure providers.
Cllr Orson continued; “Any credible masterplan can only be established through consensus and compromise and so the suggestion that the County Council could suddenly implement a masterplan unilaterally has little credibility. Having said that, if they think they can we would be grateful to know how, as they haven’t shared a suggested way forward with us yet. We will continue to work with all relevant parties to deliver our Local Plan and have already responded to the County Council’s resolution setting out the issues which they need to help us address and a proposed timescale to progress. Any funding from the County Council would be welcome to support the process but MBC cannot transfer its statutory responsibilities to the County and the masterplan can only be delivered through a joint delivery team, which I have made clear in my response. Should the County Council choose not to accept the conditions associated with the Housing Infrastructure Fund that will be a matter for them and they should not seek to blame us for any decision they wish to make.”
It should also be noted that within the adopted Local Plan it was the intention for the southern section to be delivered incrementally through developer contributions only. Therefore, whilst any decision the County Council took to reject the funding available would be regrettable it would not undermine the credibility of the Local Plan, nor delivery of the southern section, but it would extend the time over which it was delivered.
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