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BABTAG constitution

To read the BABTAG constitution please click BABTAG constitution to download a copy.

To select a specific press release click on a Link below.

 

Planning Inspector’s decision an opportunity for a rethink on the 4500 houses

The Planning Inspector’s finding that the Charnwood Core Strategy is unsound should open the door for a rethink on the council’s urban concentration policy and for robust negotiations with Leicester City Council on the number of houses that have to be built in Charnwood for the city’s overspill population says BABTAG Chairman, Owen Bentley. Such moves could allow a reduction in the number of houses planned for a new town to the north east of Leicester from the unacceptable 4,500 to a much more manageable level.

The Inspector has called on all the Leicestershire local authorites to determine within nine months the number of new houses required to meet the housing needs of the county and to forge an agreement on the numbers each council will then plan for. In its failed Core Strategy Charnwood planned to build 790 houses per year of which 330 were required to be built on Charnwood land adjoining the city largely to house the city’s overspill. This old Regional Plan commitment is the reason for the determination to shoe-horn 4,500 houses into a so-called SUE (Sustainable Urban Extension) north east of Leicester cornered by Hamilton Thurmaston, Barkby and Barkby Thorpe.

BABTAG has demonstrated that such numbers of houses cannot be accommodated without travel chaos and huge pressure on the local infrastucture.

BABTAG believes that Charnwood Borough should seize the opportunity occasioned by the Inspector’s ruling to check how many houses the City really needs outside its boundaries and to ensure that Charnwood takes a fair share rather than the lion’s share it has accepted up till now. The council should also revisit its urban concentration policy which derives from the now revoked Regional Plan and spread development more evenly around the borough. By such moves the north east of Leicester SUE could be reduced to a workable scale and precious productive farmland saved.

More information
Owen Bentley Chairman BABTAG
Tel. 0116 2692847 Mob. 0788 7881733

Expert report slams the transport plans of the developers of the 4500 houses North East of Leicester SUE

For more than five years BABTAG has claimed that it is not possible to site 4500 houses on farmland cornered by Barkby, Barkby Thorpe, Hamilton and Thurmaston without causing major traffic problems in this busy part of Leicestershire. This assertion has now been vindicated by the respected Ibstock-based Transport Engineers M-E-C in a report commissioned by BABTAG on the transport plans of the developers of the SUE. (The consultants’ summary is on the second page of this press release.) The transport experts make the following telling points:-

 

Owen Bentley. Chairman of BABTAG says “This critique of the developers’ transport plans reinforces the BABTAG case for a substantial reduction in the number of houses to be built to ease the traffic problem and to enable the retention of as much productive farmland as possible.”

More information
Owen Bentley (Chairman BABTAG)
0116 2692847 mob. 07887881733

North East of Leicester SUE
Technical Review of Transport Assessment and Travel Plan

Summary 2.20 The main concerns with the interim TA produced in support of the application are summarised below;

 

 

2.21 It is suggested the LLITM model and detailed TA are completed and submitted at the earliest opportunity to allow a reasonable review period prior to the Core Strategy’s Examination in Public (EIP) which is likely to take place in March /April this year. Report Ref: 20323/02-14/3561 Page 10

North East of Leicester SUE Technical Review of Travel Plan

Summary 3.7 At this stage it is not possible to confirm whether the measures outlined in the Framework Travel Plan will achieve the 20% modal shift target outlined in the document. More information is required as part of the detailed Travel Plan to be submitted as part of the reserved matters applications for all phases of the development. Report Ref: 20323/02-14/3561 Page 12

BABTAG reckons transport issues can still scupper the 4500 houses.

CEG has now submitted a planning application to Charnwood Borough and to Leicester City Councils for the 4500 houses. A key part of the PA is the Transport Assessment which shows the impact the travel movements of an additional 12,000 plus residents will have on the area’s roads.

Unsurprisingly CEG, the developers, give an upbeat forecast that the transport measures they are planning will not lead to gridlock and traffic chaos. BABTAG is higly sceptical of these claims and has its own transport consultant working through the figures and he will produce a critique in time for BABTAG to meet the February 7th deadline for inclusion in the group’s comments and objections to the planning application.

Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG, notes that the developers admit there is still more work to be done on transport planning. “ This transport assesment is not the last word on the subject. It is an interim report and many of its figures can only be verified when the final assessment is submitted and we don’t have a date for that. However you can be sure that it won’t escape the attention of our transport consultant and if the figures don’t add up BABTAG will call for a major reduction in the number of houses.”

More information
Owen Bentley (Chairman BABTAG)
0116 2692847
0788 7881733

BABTAG continues with the fight against the 4500 houses despite the vote for the development by Charnwood Borough Council on 28th October

On 28th October a meeting of all Charnwood councillors voted by 28 -17 to submit the Local Plan, of which a key feature is the 4500 houses, to a Government Inspector to examine in the spring of 2014. Effectively the Inspector, after weighing up all the evidence, will decide if the new town is to be built or rejected.

Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG, says that the Action Group was heartened by the size of the No vote and that the council’s endorsement of the new town is far from the end of the road.

“ The council were determined to bulldoze this scheme threough even though many vital issues concerning the 4500 houses remain up in the air. From the debate it seems that the council hopes the Inspector will sort out the problems that the council has left unresolved.”

“The Achilles heel of the 4500 houses is transport. Roads through and surrounding the location are already jammed with traffic and the travel movements of 12000 new residents spells gridlock for the area.”

“BABTAG expects to be called to give evidence to the Inspector. Our task now is to convince him/her that this grandiose new town scheme is not viable and should be abandoned in favour of more modest housing proposals for our area and of saving as much as possible of our much-loved and productive countryside.”

More information
Owen Bentley (Chairman BABTAG)
0116 2692847
0788 7881733

 

 

Summary of public consultation shows strength of opposition to Charnwood’s Local Plan.

Among the papers published today on the Charnwood website in preparation for the crunch vote on the Local Plan on 28th October is a summary of the views expressed in the summer consultation on the Plan.

Whereas the council was happy to trumpet the number of comments (3212) some weeks ago it has no plans to issue a press release on the breakdown of the figures. Could it be that they show an embarrassing flood of opposition to the urban concentration policy and the building of new towns on the edge of Leicester and Loughborough?

Indeed they do to judge from comments made concerning the North East of Leicester 4500 houses “sustainable urban extension”. Of the 986 comments received 913 held that the Plan was not legally compliant, 969 that it was not sound,966 that it was not justified and 910 that it was not consistent with national policy.

It is not just people in south Charnwood who dislike this Core Strategy. Taking Charnwood as a whole 2957 out of a total of 3212 comments said the Plan was unsound.

In thje face of such overwheming public opposition what is Charnwood doing? Instead of taking time to reconsider its Core Strategy it is pressing for final approval from the the full council on 28th October. BABTAG calls on all councillors to find, read and heed this quietly issued summary of the public consultation before casting their votes.

More information
Owen Bentley (Chairman BABTAG)
0116 2692847
0788 7881733

Action groups join forces to demonstrate the level of opposition to Charnwood’s plans for new towns on the edges of Leicester and Loughborough.

On 28th October supporters of GPCPG, Thurmaston says No and BABTAG will be demonstrating in Loughborough for a No vote from Charnwood councillors at the special meeting of the full council called to approve Charnwood’s Local Plan.

“This is the final chance for councillors to halt plans for the 4500 houses of the so-called “sustainable urban extension”(SUE) on the north east border of Leicester and a 3000 houses SUE to the west of Loughborough” says Owen Bentley Chairman of BABTAG. “If they vote to approve these schemes only the Government Inspector can stop these unwanted new towns.”

There has been sustained opposition for the last five years to these huge green field developments which has been underlined by the council’s own public consultation in the summer which elicited 3202 comments overwhelmingly against Charnwood’s housing plans

Action group members carrying banners and placards will be stationed outisde the council offices at Southfields from 10am- 4pm and at 5pm will join a mass protest outside the town hall before the public are let into the theatre at 5.30pm for the special meeeting of the full council starting at 6.30pm.

More information from :-

Owen Bentley (BABTAG)
owen.bentley@barkbythorpe.net
0116 2692847
0788 7881733

Roy Kershaw (GPCPG)
roy.kershaw@ntlworld.com
01509 554889

Ann Shaw (Thurmaston Says No)
ashaw@hotmail.co.uk
0116 2696703

Call to every Charnwood councillor to reject the 4500 houses at their crunch full council meeting on 28th October.

BABTAG today is sending a letter to all of the 49 Charnwood councillors asking them to vote NO to the Local Plan which would see a new town of 12,000 plus residents being built on 700 acres of productive farmland in the countryside cornered by Thurmaston, Hamilton, Barkby and Barkby Thorpe.

In the letter BABTAG warns the councillors that the Plan is unsound and risks rejection by the government inspector who will be appointed to make the final decision. BABTAG says that the paucity of public consultation, the failure to heed the strong local opposition to the size of the new town and the lack of real consideration of an alternative strategy are reasons enough for a no vote.

BABTAG also reckons that the councillors should reflect on whether this huge costly new town is really deliverable given the questions raised about its infrastructure costs and its transport plan which threatens gridlock on the roads of the surrounding area.

BABTAG believes that many crucial issues relating to the new town are unresolved. Witness the dispute between developers of where 13 hectares of employment land should be sited. the lack of clarity over how the conservation villages of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe are to be protected from strangulation by traffic, and the decade or more that local residents will have to suffer builders’ HGVs before any relief roads are completed.

BABTAG says that so much is undecided that councillors are being asked to buy a pig in a poke and that their only sensible response is to reject this sorry scheme.

More information from Owen Bentley 0116 2692847 mobile 0788 7881733

BABTAG And Garendon Park Action Group Deliver Objections to Council

BABTAG joins with GPCPG (Garendon Park and Countryside Protection Group) to formally hand over their comments on Charnwood’s Local Plan to the Borough Council today at 2pm Thursday 18th July at the council offices at Southfields in Loughborough.

Both action groups are opposed to the building of so called “sustainable urban extensions” on Greenfield land in the north and in the south of the borough and their supporters will be outside the council offices with placards and banners.

BABTAG’s comments
In its comments on the Charnwood Plan (also known as the Core Strategy) BABTAG cites the paucity of public consultation, the ignoring of the clearly expressed views of local people and shortcomings in the current consultation as reasons why the Local Plan is not legally compliant.

BABTAG holds that the Plan fails the soundness tests in a number of key areas. It says that the council did not give serious consideration to reasonable alternatives to the vast housing estates it intends to build on the edges of Leicester and Loughborough because it has been wedded since 2004 to a policy of urban concentration backed up by the East Midlands Regional Plan. That Plan has now been revoked but Charnwood continues on its blinkered course and has never properly investigated a strategy of dispersed settlement.

BABTAG believes the plan has been insufficiently researched and contains major flaws which cast in doubt the deliverability of a new town of 4500 houses. Chief of these is the inadequacy of the road and transport plans for a population of 12,000 new residents and the impact of the development on the conservation villages of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe and on the integrity of Thurmaston and Syston as separate communities.

Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG says:- “Shoe-horning a new town of 4,500 houses into an already busy corner of Leicestershire is never going to work. Charnwood must see sense and cut down the number of houses to a figure that the infrastructure can cope with and local residents can accept.”

More information from:-
Owen Bentley (Chairman BABTAG)
Tel: 0116 2692847 Mob: 0788 7881733
Email: owen.bentley@barkbythorpe.net

10,000 Leaflets To Oppose 4,500 Houses

BABTAG has joined forces with Thurmaston and Barkby parish councils to produce 10,000 leaflets urging local people to tell Charnwood Borough Council how “unsound” is the plan to build 4500 on productive farmland to the north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston – the so-called North East of Leicester sustainable urban extension or SUE for short.

The leaders of Charnwood Council approved the plan in April and will be consulting the public on it in June and July before it goes before the full council in October.

Among the reasons for labelling the plan “unsound” the leaflet lists the lack of public consultation since 2008, the revocation of the East Midlands Regional Plan which has removed the obligation to build on the northern fringe of Leicester, and the inadequacy of the transport plans to cope with the cars and travel movement of 12,000 new residents.

“We noted” says Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG, "that Charnwood’s ideas for public consultation rely heavily on the council’s interactive website which many people are not skilled in accessing. Through distributing our leaflets to homes in the area with the welcome help of the Thurmaston Times and the Syston Town News we are making sure that everyone has a chance to learn about the 4,500 houses and to have their say on this burning issue. Grumbling to neighbours about the development is not enough. We want a flood of letters and emails to Charnwood which will persuade the councillors that in its present form the scheme is not viable.”

The leaflet details the public exhibitions that Charnwood council planners will be manning in Thurmaston, Barkby and Syston and the public meetings that the parish councils have called to alert local residents to the importance of writing their objections to the SUE during the public consultation period from 10th June to 22nd July.

More information from:-
Owen Bentley (Chairman BABTAG)
Tel: 0116 2692847 Mob: 0788 7881733
Email: owen.bentley@barkbythorpe.net

The Fight Goes On

BABTAG fights on against the 4500 houses

BABTAG will fight on against the 4,500 houses following Charnwood Cabinet decision on April 11th to endorse its masterplan known as the core strategy for development across the borough.

There are several more hoops to be gone through before a final decision is made. Chief of these is a period of public consultation in May and June which will inform the thinking of the full Charnwood council when they vote for or against the strategy in October this year. If the councillors vote yes then there is still the approval of the government’s planning inspector needed after an “examination in public” next year.

BABTAG will use the public consultation process to question the roads and transport plan which underpins what we must now learn to call “The North East Leicester SUE” (sustainable urban extension). Charnwood and the County Highways Department have put forward a £36 million transport improvement scheme which they claim will mitigate 100% the travel movements of the 12000 plus new residents – in other words not worsen the jams and hold-ups currently experienced. This plan will add £8000 to the cost of every new house that is built. BABTAG’s own transport consultants have pointed to inconsistencies in the plan and the lack of detail and warn of the dangers of future traffic congestion and gridlock in the area around the new development. BABTAG believes that only by reducing the number of houses will it be possible to avoid traffic chaos.

BABTAG will also point out that the revocation on 12th April of the East Midlands Regional plan and its policy of urban concentration opens the door for Charnwood to renegotiate its deal with city of Leicester over the number of houses that the borough has to build for city people. A partial lifting of this unfair burden could then lead to a reduction in house numbers in the SUE.

Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG, says; - “We are not against some new housing and appreciate the work of the planners in trying to protect the identity of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe but the imposition of a new town the size of Syston on our doorstep will irrevocably change the character and the countryside of villages which have been called “the jewels in Charnwood’s crown. We must fight on”.

More information
Owen Bentley Chairman BABTAG
Tel: 0116 2692847 Mob: 0788 7881733

'Think Again' Letter Sent To Charnwood Councillors

Revocation of the East Midlands Regional Plan prompts “think again” letter from BABTAG to all members of the Charnwood Cabinet who are due to endorse the plan for 4,500 houses at their meeting on 11th April

BABTAG has sent a letter to all members of the Charnwood Cabinet pointing out that the revocation of the East Midlands Regional Plan means that Charnwood Borough Council is no longer obliged to promote the building of a new town the size of Syston on productive farmland north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston.

In the letter (attached) BABTAG also expresses doubts over the efficacy of the transport measures proposed for coping with an extra 12,000 residents in an area where there is already regular traffic congestion..

BABTAG calls on the council leaders to exercise their new freedom by not endorsing this so called “sustainable urban extension” and to consider Charnwood wide options to meet the borough’s housing needs.

More information
Owen Bentley Chairman BABTAG
Tel: 0116 2692847 Mob: 0788 7881733

Government revokes East Midlands Regional Plan

Government pulls rug from under Charnwood’s massive 4,500 housing development on northern fringe of Leicester

On April 11th Charnwood Council leaders are set to endorse a plan to build 4,500 houses on 700 acres of productive farmland north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston. A key reason the council has given over the years for advancing this development in the teeth of local opposition is that it has had no choice. It was bound by the East Midlands Regional Plan which obliged the council to find a site for a new town on the Leicester fringe.

Now we learn that on April 12th the govt. is revoking the old Labour government’s East Midlands Regional Plan so Charnwood will suddenly become its own master in planning terms and will no longer be able to hide behind govt. compulsion over unpopular policies. It must surely now heed local opinion if it wishes to stay in line with the coalition’s “Localism” agenda.

Owen Bentley Chairman of BABTAG says:
“Within 24 hours of endorsing the so called “Thurmaston sustainable urban extension” the rug will be pulled from under Charnwood’s pet scheme. Local people do not want this new town of 12,000 which will put huge strain on local transport and services and concrete over productive farmland vital for food security. BABTAG calls on Charnwood to seize the opportunity to ditch its grandiose housing scheme and come up with an acceptable solution for dealing with the need for new houses that will attract the support of local residents”.

More information
Owen Bentley Chairman BABTAG
Tel: 0116 2692847 Mob: 0788 7881733

Case for 4,500 Houses Not Sufficiently Made by Charnwood's Key Transport Report

meeting the leaders of Charnwood Borough Council will be putting their full weight behind the plan to build 4,500 houses on farmland to the north of Hamilton and East of Thurmaston.

This key decision rests on a transport report commissioned by the council which claims to show that building a new town with a population greater than Syston’s will not worsen the traffic problems that the area already suffers so long as there are some new roads and transport improvements.

BABTAG is amazed that the council consider this report provides sufficient evidence for giving the vast housing scheme its endorsement and says that an independent review of the transport assessment by BABTAG’s own transport consultants shows that it is far from clear that the case is made.

BABTAG’s consultants report a worrying lack of detail on figures presented in the assessment for claims of traffic increase/decrease and take issue with the argument that detailed work on how new road junction improvements will actually work can be put off until the planning application stage of the housing project.

Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG says: - “We need to know now, not later, if the changes to the transport infrastructure proposed will be able to cope with the travel movement of the 12,000 plus new residents. If, as we fear, the price of the 4,500 houses is huge traffic congestion on the periphery of the development then the council must conclude that the number of houses has to be reduced if the adjective “sustainable” can ever apply to this urban extension”.

A copy of the issues raised by BABTAG’s consultants, the Ibstock based M-EC Consultant Development Engineers is attached.

More information

Owen Bentley Chairman BABTAG

Tel: 0116 2692847 Mob: 0788 7881733

Barkby fundraising dinner raises £2,118 for BABTAG’s campaign against the 4500 houses

BABTAG’s budget for paying for independent consultants received a welcome boost on Saturday evening 2nd February when a fundraising dinner raised GBP2118 GBP80 from that total came from the auctioning of a stunning sunset photograph of the "ballerina tree" which stands sentinel for the threatened countryside in the green field next to the current development of 150 houses just after the pinch on the road south of Barkby Thorpe.

The cash will help pay for a detailed examination of council plans for dealing with the travel movements of a potential additional 15,000 residents of 4,500 new houses on greenfield land cornered by Hamilton, Thurmaston, Syston and Barkby – the so-called Thurmaston Sustainable Urban Extension.
Owen Bentley, the Chairman of BABTAG says: - "Charnwood Council is due to publish its key transport assessment this Friday 8th February. To progress the "Sustainable Urban Extension" the council needs to demonstrate that the travel movements of the new residents will not bring this part of Leicestershire to gridlock."
"BABTAG believes there will be major hold-ups in Thurmaston, Syston, Hamilton, Barkby and the Leicester ring road."
"If our consultants find the housing development increases congestion we will have a strong argument to demand of our Charnwood councillors that the Thurmaston SUE be dropped or that the numbers of houses in the scheme be reduced substantially."
Charnwood Council intends to go public with its housing plans at the March meeting of the council cabinet and there is an expectation that the 4500 house of the Thurmaston SUE will be the centrepiece (otherwise known as the Core Strategy). There will then be a six week period of public consultation before the full council votes on it on dates yet to be determined.
Owen Bentley says: - "Charnwood has no Plan B if the traffic assessment does not give the development the green light. BABTAG wants a red or at the very least an amber light which will send the planners back to the drawing board to come up with more sensible proposals."

For more information contact:

Owen Bentley, Chairman BABTAG 0788 7881733 0116 2692847

An open letter protesting over the sidelining of local opinion by Charnwood planners and calling on Charnwood councillors to "think again" before endorsing plans for huge urban extensions at Thurmaston and Garendon on 27th September has been sent by BABTAG to the Charnwood Cabinet. The text is below.

Dear members of the Charnwood Cabinet,
At your next meeting on 27th September you will be asked to approve a development strategy put forward by your planners that has failed to take into account four years' worth of objections from all manner of organisations representing the people of Charnwood, your electors.
Despite greater flexibility in government planning policy and the moves to strengthen the people's voice through the policy of Localism your planners have doggedly pursued their top-down goal of so called Sustainable Urban Extensions at Garendon and Thurmaston. Sure, they list all the objections in this lengthy report that were raised in the public consultations but seem to think that the act of listing absolves them from heeding public opinion and licenses them to stick to the track they have been on for the past 6 years or more.
You are being asked to endorse huge new town developments on productive green fields and much loved countryside in the face of fierce opposition from the people of the areas. Suggestions that the numbers of houses Charnwood has to build to house Leicester's growth should be renegotiated and that the soon to be revoked Regional Plan and its policy of urban concentration should be contested are brushed aside in this report.
Amazingly you are being asked to endorse these huge new towns when the necessary detailed transport modelling has still to be undertaken and it is not at all clear that the infrastructure can cope.
BABTAG asks you to send this report back to the planners with the message that they should "think again" and come back with a plan that protects our countryside, that maintains the integrity and character of our villages and that spreads necessary housing development fairly across Charnwood. Only such a course of action will secure the backing of the Charnwood public.

Owen Bentley Chairman BABTAG

Owen Bentley says: "The planners have wanted these developments for the past six years or more and their blinkered pursuit of these goals has have made a mockery of their public consultation exercises where opposition to their plans was overwhelming. BABTAG calls upon the elected councillors to represent strong local opinion and send the planners back to the drawing board."

For more information contact:

Owen Bentley, Chairman BABTAG 0788 7881733 0116 2692847

Not 5000 but now a threat of 6,500 houses on open countryside within the square cornered by Hamilton, Thurmaston, Syston and Barkby.

Charnwood Borough Council is currently consulting on an option to site 1500 houses on farmland to the south and east of Syston. Its planners already want a new town of 4500 houses on the green fields to the north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston. (They call this the "Thurmaston Sustainable Urban Extension" or SUE for short.) Add to these figures 320 more houses overlooking the "deserted medieval village" of Hamilton given planning permission only a fortnight ago and the 150 already under construction on Barkby Thorpe Road and you arrive a figure that is the best part of 6,500 houses. Whether all these 6,500 houses get built is up to the elected councillors of Charnwood who have yet to vote on Charnwood’s Local Plan which will be revealed to the public at the end of this year.

BABTAG is campaigning against this massive onslaught on the countryside. "At the root of the problem is Charnwood's commitment to Leicester, dating back to the now discredited Regional Plan, to provide space for 7,300 houses for Leicester’s growing population on a narrow strip of south Charnwood bordering the City" says Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG. "It is now clear that if the council delivers on this promise it will be at the cost of a huge loss of countryside and an urban sprawl stretching up from Leicester through Thurmaston, Syston, the parishes of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe and virtually all the way up to Queniborough."

BABTAG is appealing to Charnwood councillors to stop this happening by not only listening to local opinion but acting on it.

BABTAG says:-

1
Renegotiate the deal with the city so that all surrounding local authorities share fairly the burden of Leicester's overspill.

2
Change the "urban concentration policy" so that necessary housing can be built in suitable locations across the whole of Charnwood such as the huge brownfield site of Wymeswold airfield.

3
Bring down the number of houses in the Thurmaston SUE to a level that is acceptable to the local community.

4
Keep the green fields that ensure the separate identities of Thurmaston and Syston and protect the integrity of Barkby Thorpe, Barkby and Queniborough so that they remain "the jewels in Charnwood's crown".

NEWS OF A DELAY FOR THE CHARNWOOD LOCAL PLAN There has been a major delay in adopting the Local Plan which Charnwood only revealed in mid-July. It has all to do with the capacity of the transport infrastructure to cope with the journeys of the thousands of people who will be living in the new houses. This has been assessed by Leicestershire County Council using a traffic modelling system agreed with Charnwood. However, the Government's Highways Agency is not happy with some of the journey estimates in the Traffic Assessment produced by the County Council. The Traffic Assessment is key to how many houses can be built in a given area so until this dispute is resolved (which could take up to 10 weeks) there can be no formal decision by the Charnwood Cabinet on where the houses will go. BABTAG understands that the December meeting of the Charnwood Cabinet is the earliest date from which a Charnwood Plan will emerge. This means that public consultation on the plan will not begin till Christmas or the New Year and it will not be put to a vote of the full council till 2013.

For more information contact: Owen Bentley, Chairman BABTAG Tel: 0116 2692847 Mob: 0788 7881733

BABTAG fights on against revised plans for the Thurmaston SUE and new proposals for 1500 house south and east of Syston

BABTAG has learnt that the Charnwood planners' preferred location for a SUE (a sustainable urban extension) is still the productive farmland north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston. However house numbers have been reduced by 500 to 4,500 from the original 2008 proposal of 5000 houses. Meantime the borough has announced a three week period of consultation about sites for the location of a further 2143 houses in south Charnwood for which the planners have identified a need. One option is for 1500 houses south and east of Syston.

BABTAG, which has been campaigning against the SUE since 2008 has issued the following statement:

1
BABTAG acknowledges that there is a need for new homes in south Charnwood but building a new town, albeit with a reduction of 500 houses, on precious productive farmland is not an acceptable answer. The new town will change forever the rural character of the parishes of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe and the villages described recently as "the jewels in Charnwood’s crown" will be tarnished by so much housing development.

2
BABTAG has grave doubts that the infrastructure of the area can cope with an additional population of 15,000 and will use GBP4000 awarded by the South Charnwood Community Forum to examine closely the transport plan for the SUE, The area already suffers major traffic congestion and pollution and it is difficult to see how it will cope with the cars and travel movements of thousands of new residents even if a number of expensive new roads are built.

3
BABTAG is disappointed that the Charnwood planners have paid little attention to the objections of local people expressed for over three years in meetings, consultations and demonstrations. In essence the planners have adhered to their original plan for the Thurmaston SUE which was the fruit of the discredited and disavowed Regional Plan of the last government.

4
will engage in consultations over the location of sites for the further 2143 house with the aim of limiting their impact on the character and integrity of the parishes of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe.

5
BABTAG notes that this plan has still to go before the Charnwood Cabinet and the full council for approval and will be lobbying local councillors to do all they can to defend the area against such massive and unwelcome development.

For more information contact:

Owen Bentley, Chairman BABTAG Mob: 0788 7881733
Pam Green, Chairman Barkby Parish Council 0116 2692853

Heritage site threatened by Charnwood planners' approval recommendation for 320 houses on land overlooking Hamilton deserted medieval village

On Thursday 21st June Charnwood Plans Committee will decide whether to ignore the clear advice of English Heritage, (restated on 12thJune) and accept the recommendation of their planning officers to grant planning permission for an estate of 320 houses overlooking the site of the Hamilton deserted medieval village on the road between Barkby Thorpe and Scraptoft.

Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG, deplores the recommendation: "The intrusion of these suburban houses will hugely degrade the setting of this important schedule ancient monument lying in the rural tranquillity of the Melton Brook valley. I fear for other historic sites of national importance if the local borough can so blatantly ignore the advice of English Heritage which is the statutory authority set up to guard our historic sites"

"There are a host of other reasons why this location is the wrong place for a housing estate but this philistine disregard for our heritage takes the biscuit. I trust the Plans Committee will do the right thing and reject this application."

See attached images for a before and after impression of the impact of this development. Read the latest letter dated 12th June from English Heritage advising rejection to Charnwood Borough Council on the Charnwood website in related documents to the P/11/1785/2 planning application.



for more information contact :-

Owen Bentley, Chairman BABTAG
Tel :0116 2692847 Mob: 0788 7881733

Government's new planning framework offers hope for group campaigning against Greenfield housing development.

The Government's new planning laws announced yesterday give an element of protection to non-green belt countryside. The National Planning Policy Framework recognises "the intrinsic value and beauty" of the wider countryside.

Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG welcomes this protection which was absent in previous drafts of the NPPF saying "Leicestershire has no green belt land so our countryside is much more vulnerable to developers. Now local planners will have to have regard for our beautiful and productive countryside when considering the location of new housing estates".

BABTAG is fighting proposals for a new town of 5000 houses on farmland land east of Thurmaston and north of Hamilton. Charnwood Borough Council is now expected to decide its scale and size or its abandonment in September.

BABTAG also welcomes the stipulation that Brownfield should usually be developed before Greenfield sites and town centres before out of town sites and that "the presumption in favour of development" is now hedged in with new conditions which should deter opportunistic planning applications.

for more information contact :-

Owen Bentley, Chairman BABTAG
Tel :0116 2692847 Mob: 0788 7881733

Site of the 5000 houses of the Thurmaston "Sustainable Urban Extension" is highly valued green space according to Leicestershire County Council's Green Spaces Mapping report

In 2011 Leicestershire County Council asked the public to say which local green spaces they particularly value and why. This was in response to Government proposals to create a new designation, to protect green areas of particular importance to local communities. The responses have now been collated and online maps have been produced highlighting more than 3000 areas that people value across Leicestershire and can be accessed via http:/www.leics.gov.uk/greenspaces

From the map produced from the 102 local responses it is clear that the productive and attractive farmland to the south of Barkby and to the east of Thurmaston is a greatly valued green space for local residents. This is countryside under threat from the proposed new town of 5000 houses, the so-called Thurmaston SUE.

Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG, said: - "The government's Localism agenda should mean that more regard should be given to local people's views. The finding of the green spaces exercise is a powerful weapon in the fight to save our countryside from unwelcome housing development."

More information from :-

Owen Bentley
Chairman BABTAG
0116 2692847
0788 7881733

Strong support from local councillors for Barkby's petition for the Highways Department to act to curb the "intolerable" traffic coursing through the village.

Following the acceptance of Barkby Parish Council's petition by the leader of the County Council, David Parsons, at the village school on December 19th it was presented to the County Council's Roads and Transport Department at a meeting of the Highways Forum in Loughborough on 17th January. The petition was strongly supported by local district and county councillors, Stephen Hampson, Paul Harley, Dave Houseman and Ken Pacey who all acknowledged the huge increase in traffic using Barkby and Barkby Thorpe's narrow roads as a rat-run or short cut over the last 30 years.

Speaking in support of the petition the Chairman of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe Parish Council, Pam Green said the villages recently held to be "the jewel in Charnwood's crown" were blighted by traffic. Motorists who could and should take other routes on roads designed to take heavy traffic could not resist a short cut through Barkby and Barkby Thorpe.

Planning applications were now in for 470 houses south and south east of the villages which, if approved, would soon lead to even more traffic on the winding lanes and narrow village streets and longer term there was the unwelcome prospect of a new town of 5000 dwellings that threatened the very identity of the villages.

Mrs Green said that some people believed that a new town would mean a by-pass for Barkby and Barkby Thorpe but there was no guarantee that a by-pass running from Troon Way in the city to the Melton Road in Queniborough would ever be built. Local authorities did not have millions of pounds to spare for such a project and why, she asked, should developers be expected to fund a road that would stretch way beyond the limits of their housing estates? Moreover, such a by-pass, if by some miracle it was ever approved, would take years if not decades to build when the traffic problem was "here and now and increasing".

The parish council chairman said that villagers had lost patience with the rat-runners who thought more of shaving a minute of their journey than the danger, pollution and noise they were causing for residents. These motorists should be encouraged to use the proper routes on the main roads and it was surely the job of the expert transport planners of the county to find a way of making this happen sooner rather than later. She looked forward to the Highways Department response to the petition.

More information from
Owen Bentley, Chairman BABTAG Tel: 0116 2692845 Mob: 0788 7881733

 

Press Release 19th December 2011 - Petition on Intolerable Traffic Presented to County Council Leader

A petition has been signed by 128 residents representing practically all of the households in Barkby & Barkby Thorpe. It states:
"As residents of the parishes of Barkby & Barkby Thorpe we are intensely aware that the volume of "rat-runners" and shopping traffic from all directions through our villages has reached an intolerable level.
We fully support our parish council's campaign to persuade the highways authorities to conduct a new census of traffic volumes and then to propose measures which will properly address the problem".
The petition was presented to the Leader of Leicestershire County Council Mr David Parsons by the Head Boy, Matthew Bartram, the Head Girl, Victoria McLean and pupils of Barkby Pochin School on 19th December.

Speaking at the handing over of the petition Pam Green, Chairman of Barkby & Barkby Thorpe Parish Council said "With the new housing development awaiting planning approval on Barkby Thorpe Road, Hamilton Lane together with Charnwood's possible proposal for a new town of 5,000 houses towards Thurmaston there is the prospect of even more traffic through our villages - so now is the time for this problem to be addressed". David Parsons, Leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: "It's clear that there are concerns in the community around motorists using village roads as a short-cut and the knock-on effects of potential development. Residents have taken action to galvanise support and I'm pleased to accept the petition on behalf of Leicestershire County Council, and will ensure officers explore the options available. The petition will be presented to the Charnwood Highways Forum and officers' findings reported back at a future meeting."

Carla Cunningham-Atkins
Clerk To Barkby & Barkby Thorpe Parish Council


Traffic races past the Pochin School in Barkby


Children of the Pochin School Barkby and the petition with County Council Leader David Parsons and Chairman of Barkby Parish Council, Pam Green.

Persimmon 150 Houses Development Leaflet


The new BABTAG information flier.

June 2011 - Village Conservation Area report finds much to value in Barkby and Barkby Thorpe

PRESS RELEASE 10th June 2011

BABTAG welcomes the adoption by the Charnwood Borough Council Cabinet on 9th June of a report that spells out the charm and the character of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe - villages whose integrity is threatened by the 5000 houses proposal.

The Appraisal by Charnwood's Conservation and Landscape Team lists buildings and vistas of historic and architectural merit and draws attention to the layout of the village which has scarcely changed in 230 years.

It notes the presence of seven working farmsteads in the villages as unique in Charnwood and makes the point that "the relationship of the hamlet and the village to their rural setting is an important part of the character of the area"

Whilst the report is clearly captivated by the parkland, the scene along the brook, the biodiversity of the area and the rich archaeology it also draws attention to one of the less attractive features - the high volume of traffic which uses the village roads as a rat-run to and from Leicester.

Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG, believes the report will help the fight to protect the identity and integrity of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe from the threat of the 5000 houses and even more through traffic. "All would be developers will have to pay heed to this report which is an important planning document". Whilst the Appraisal properly concentrates on the conservation area where most of the farmsteads are situated it does not take much of a leap of imagination to see how diminished these working farms and the rest of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe would be without the surrounding fields.

It is these fields that provide the essential setting for villages which Mathew Blain, Lead Councillor for Planning, speaking at the meeting of the Charnwood Cabinet that adopted the report "considered the jewels in the Charnwood crown."

Note to Editors
The Barkby and Barkby Thorpe Character Appraisal Conservation Area Character Appraisal can be found on the Charnwood Borough Council website www.charnwood.gov.uk

 

June 2011 - BABTAG Briefs Council Chiefs On Its Campaign

BABTAG presents petition and briefs the new Charnwood Council leaders on its campaign to save its countryside from the 5000 houses

BABTAG members presented their case against the proposal to build 5000 houses on productive countryside east of Thurmaston and north of Hamilton to new council leader, David Slater and new lead councillor on Planning, Matthew Blain, at a meeting in the leader's office in Loughborough on Monday 20th June. They also delivered a 350 signature petition calling on the council to "withdraw its proposal for the new town and replace it with a plan that allows for necessary growth in existing communities whist protecting precious productive countryside and village identity". (See attached photos)

"It was a cordial meeting" say Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG., "We let them know the strength of the opposition to the 5000 houses and the solid reasons why this is the wrong place to build a new town. At a time when good agricultural land should be protected for future food security it would be incredibly short-sighted to opt for such a major Greenfield development". BABTAG also warns of infrastructure inadequacies, traffic chaos and threats to the integrity and identity of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe which were described just a week ago as "the jewels in the Charnwood crown" by Councillor Blain.

Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG, Charnwood Council leader David Slater and lead 
councillor for Planning, Matthew Blain

Left to right
Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG, presents Charnwood Council leader David Slater and lead councillor for Planning, Matthew Blain with a 350 signature petition opposing the 5000 houses (the Thurmaston SUE proposal)

Owen Bentley, David Slater, Matthew Blain and Edward Kirk 
and Chairman of Barkby Parish Council, Pam Green

Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG presents Charnwood Council leader David Slater and lead councillor for Planning Matthew Blain with a 350 signature petition opposing the 5000 houses (the Thurmaston SUE proposal). Also present BABTAG committee member Edward Kirk (extreme left) and Chairman of Barkby Parish Council, Pam Green (extreme right)

More information from
Owen Bentley Tel: 0116 2692845 Mob: 0788 7881733

Press Release - 16th February 2011

Residents Survey Confirms Overwhelming Support for BABTAG and Opposition to 5000 Houses

Two years after it was established to fight proposals for a new town of 5000 houses on its doorstep, local pressure group BABTAG has received a 100% endorsement of its founding aims from the villagers of Barkby, Barkby Thorpe and Hamilton Grounds. This is the key finding from a recent survey distributed to every household in the two parishes, to which over 140 responses were received.

"We felt it was time to verify that our campaign was still in tune with the views of local residents impacted by the new town proposal " said Owen Bentley, Chairman of the Action Group. "For the past two years, BABTAG has used reasoned argument to oppose the 5000 houses because of the devastating impact it would have on the identity and integrity of Barkby, Barkby Thorpe and Hamilton Grounds, not to mention the destruction of fertile farming land and consequences of additional traffic on our already congested roads". "With such overwhelming public support BABTAG can continue its campaign with renewed vigour knowing that we have the full backing of the residents of our threatened villages," he added.

Other findings from the questionnaire included:

BABTAG now intends to send the results of the survey to the leader, councillors and planning officers of Charnwood Borough Council to emphatically demonstrate that the residents of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe are opposed to their development plans. BABTAG will call on Charnwood Borough Council to abandon for good its proposal for the new town and demand that BABTAG is included in any future consultations on housing proposals under the Local Development Framework.

"BABTAG is determined to show that residents' opinions really count," commented Owen. "We will simply not allow our unique heritage to be destroyed by these planning proposals."

ENDS

Notes to Editors

  1. For further information and a copy of the survey results, please contact Owen Bentley, Chairman, BABTAG.
  2. 316 questionnaires were distributed in mid-January, with 141 returned by the closing date. The response rate was 44.66%
  3. For further information on the aims and objectives of BABTAG, please visit www.babtag.co.uk or our Facebook page BABTAG1

Press release - 12th October 2010

THE 5000 HOUSES - THE THREAT REMAINS

Following the General Election in May the coalition government abolished regional strategies for housing development. This was a top-down system which had led Charnwood Borough Council to propose the Thurmaston Sustainable Urban Extension (the 5000 houses) as a way of fulfilling an imposed housing target. On the abolition of regional strategies BABTAG immediately requested the Council to withdraw its 5000 houses proposal and replace it with more modest plans which would be acceptable to the local community. Now BABTAG has been told that the Thurmaston SUE remains an option and there will be no decision on it until after the next Charnwood borough elections in May 2011. How come?

It is true that the new coalition government has abolished the Regional Plan under which our local borough council was directed to plan for major housing developments in south Charnwood of which the proposal to build a "sustainable urban extension" of 5000 homes on farmland north of Hamilton and East of Thurmaston (in shorthand the Thurmaston SUE) was a key component.

But it is also true that Charnwood is now quietly developing its own plan for housing and the Council has told BABTAG that the Thurmaston SUE remains an option for development

It is also true that that Council has told BABTAG that the would-be developer, Commercial Estates Group, is still actively promoting the 5000 houses and for that reason the Council cannot withdraw the proposal from the "core strategy" planning process.

So what is really going on behind the scenes?
The one thing that is obvious is that the whole planning process has been delayed. Good news for BABTAG but not a victory. Charnwood is having to adjust to its new freedom to choose for itself how many houses should be built in the Borough and where that development should be located. Sounds simple. So why hasn't the Council made some decisions and told us exactly where housing development is going to be? The answer is that it is cautiously waiting for three things before it sets out a new timetable that will lead to some action. These are:

  1. The Government's household projections due in November. These will update the housing requirement.
  2. The Government's spending review due in late October This will determine the economic climate for the next few years and indicate whether the Council will have any money at all to put towards infrastructure and housing projects.
  3. The Government's Decentralisation and Localism Bill which will spell out how the citizen and local groups like BABTAG get to be part of the planning process rather than the spectator shouting from the sidelines.

Then what?
Once the Council has found out what the new rules of the game are it will institute a new round of public consultation in the first half of 2011. The Council will then prepare a new "Core Strategy" draft which will set out the Council's housing proposals for south Charnwood and the borough as a whole. No doubt there will be even more consultations before the plan goes to a vote by the elected councillors and, under the present rules the process won't end until a Government Inspector add his stamp of approval. This could easily take till 2012.

No decisions before the Local Election in MAY

Surprise, surprise! No major decisions will be taken before the Charnwood Borough Council elections in May so no councillor will face the electors having voted for a highly unpopular development. However when the councillors are safely back in their seats with a four year secure term ahead councillors can be more easily persuaded to vote for unpopular measures.

So what are BABTAG's priorities for the coming months?

Combat complacency and make sure that local people realise that the battle is not won.

If the Government's community involvement policies (to be spelt out in the Localism Bill in November) allow it make sure BABTAG participates in the planning process.

For the May elections get all local councillors and candidates to say where they stand on the 5000 houses and after the elections hold the elected councillors to account when decision time come round for the Thurmaston SUE.

Owen Bentley
Chairman BABTAG
0116 2692847
0788 7881733

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Press release - 25th May 2010

STOP THE 5000 HOUSES

New policies from the new coalition government give Charnwood Borough councillors the opportunity to ditch their unpopular proposal to build a new town of 5000 houses on pleasant and productive farmland north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston. BABTAG (Barkby and Barkby Thorpe Parishes Action Group) urges them to seize the moment and set their planners to work on more modest schemes that will attract the support of the public.

The government is set on a course to abolish regional control over local councils. If this happens in full then Charnwood will no longer be told how many houses it has to plan for and where they need to be built. At present it is obliged to plan for 5000 houses on a narrow band on the Leicester fringe. Freed from these irksome obligations the council can now decide for itself how many new houses it needs for its own population and place them where they will be welcomed by the citizens.

It is highly likely that without the obligation to plan for Leicester's overspill the numbers of new dwellings required will be a good deal fewer than the current target. Given that neither the council nor the developers have any money to pay for major infrastructure new town developments such as the so called Thurmaston Sustainable Urban Extension are clearly unsustainable and unnecessary and must not go ahead.

BABTAG reminds Charnwood councillors that they face their own electorate next year and urges them to act now to stop the 5000 houses.

Owen Bentley
Chairman BABTAG
0116 2692847
0788 7881733

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Press release - 16TH February 2010

Cream Teas an attraction of BABTAG's Battlefield Tour Sunday 25th April 2010

Plans for 5000 houses on pleasant and productive farmland north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston may have been put on hold until after the General Election but the battle has not yet been won and the threat remains.

BABTAG (Barkby and Barkby Thorpe Parishes Action Group) intends to raise awareness of the proposed development by organising a "battlefield" tour on Sunday 25th April when its members will be leading walking tours of the threatened countryside. Tour groups will leave Barkby from outside the Malt Shovel pub at 2.30pm, 3.00pm and 3.30pm and the circular route, on public footpaths, will follow the ridge around Barkby Thorpe to Hamilton Grounds Farm where cream teas will be served. Walkers will then follow the direct footpath back to Barkby. BABTAG guides will point out features of the landscape and its value for farming and recreation. If the walk is a step too far for some folk they can drive Hamilton Grounds to enjoy the cream teas which will be served from 3.30pm.

"Come and enjoy a walk in Leicestershire's countryside on 25th April" says Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG. "There's no charge for the walk so just turn up for the tour and learn why we feel so strongly that this landscape must be protected".

More information from Owen Bentley
Tel: 0116 2692847
Mob: 0788 7881733
Email: owen.bentley@barkbythorpe.net

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Press release - 13th January 2010

The latest on BABTAG's campaign to oppose the proposal to build 5000 houses on farmland north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston

  1. An odd day to bury good news?
    Charnwood Borough Council finally admitted in a midday press release on 23rd December that there'll be no decision on the 5000 houses before June 2010 admitting that there are "questions around alternative directions for growth". Firing off a press release on the eve of Christmas Eve guaranteed no coverage in the local media just before Christmas but BABTAG is happy to trumpet such a useful delay.
  2. Leaflet charts BABTAG's achievements
    BABTAG has organised another leaflet drop in the villages (see attachments sent separately to you) to ensure that everyone is up to date on the campaign and can read what BABTAG has been up to in the past year. "It is really for people who couldn't get to our fund-raising evening in Barkby Village Hall where we explained the campaign" said Owen Bentley, Chairman of the Action Group. Over GBP300 was contributed to BABTAG's funds that evening.
  3. New Govt. policy on farming helpful to the campaign
    Concreting over 700 acres of prime agricultural land has always seemed a daft idea to BABTAG. How much more so now when the Environment Minister, Hilary Benn wants British farmers to produce more food? Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference on 6th Jan 2110 he said: "I want British agriculture to produce as much food as possible.
    No ifs. No buts.
    And the only requirements should be, first, that consumers want what is produced and, second, that the way our food is grown both sustains our environment and safeguards our landscape. And everything that we do - each of us - should be judged against these simple tests."
  4. Battlefield CampaignTour Sunday 25th April
    Whilst the local politicians have kicked the 5000 houses into the long grass until after the General Election BABTAG plans to keep the threat of the new town very much alive by planning a tour of the "battlefield" i.e. the pleasant and productive farmland north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston that is at the centre of Charnwood's development proposal. Using public footpaths there will be guided tours throughout the day so people can see with their own eyes what they are in danger of losing.
  5. Sign up to our petitions
    There is still plenty of time to sign up to BABTAG's petitions to Downing Street and to Charnwood Borough Council. They can both be accessed online via the BABTAG website www.babtag.co.uk or for Downing Street you can use the following link:
    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/BABTAG
    There they will find the online petition which reads:-
    "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to abandon the government's top down housing policy which has compelled Charnwood Borough Council to propose building a new town of 5000 dwellings on precious and productive countryside north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston."

    BABTAG's petition to Charnwood Borough Council calls on the local authority "to withdraw its proposal for a 5000 dwellings new town development north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston and replace it with a plan that allows for necessary growth in existing communities whilst protecting precious productive countryside and village identity"

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Fundraising success - 13th November 2009

GBP300 was raised at a fundraising event in Barkby village hall on 11th November. The donations will help to fund BABTAG'S continuing efforts to stop 5000 houses being built on countryside north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston.

The event also saw the launch of two online petitions against Charnwood's "new town" proposal, one a Downing St. petition to the Prime Minister and the second to Charnwood Borough Council. Both can be accessed through BABTAG's website www.babtag.co.uk

The event attracted supporters from Syston, Thurmaston, Quenborough and Beeby as well as villagers from Barkby and Barkby Thorpe who were able to see an exhibition about BABTAG's campaign and to watch a video of the march through Barkby last April to erect the first of the banners and placards alerting the public to the threat to the surrounding countryside.

Addressing the supporters in the hall Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG, said that BABTAG could take some of the credit for Charnwood's delay in coming to a decision on the new town which could now stretch until after the General Election but he warned about complacency. "It is far too early to think we are winning. The planners will continue to plan. Delay is useful but it does not remove the planning blight that now affects all our houses and threatens our precious countryside and our way of life. We need to see this particular proposal dropped. This is why BABTAG will continue to campaign. There is a need for housing in Leicestershire which BABTAG acknowledges. We can see the need for some new homes in our villages to breathe new life into our communities but we fiercely oppose this huge new town which will ruin a unique part of rural England."

More information from:
Owen Bentley
Email: owen.bentley@barkbythorpe.demon.co.uk
Tel: 0116 2692847
Mobile: 0788 7881733

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What has BABTAG achieved:BABTAG speech - 11th November

WHAT HAS BABTAG ACHIEVED IN 2009?

Extract from speech by Owen Bentley, Chairman BABTAG to supporters in Barkby Village Hall 11th November 2009

So has BABTAG achieved anything in the past year?It is not all down to BABTAG but I'm sure we can take some small credit that Charnwood Borough Council is a long way from endorsing the proposal of its planners to build 5000 houses on our doorstep. When BABTAG was formed last December there was every chance that Charnwood would have voted for the scheme in March. Then the big decision was to be June and then October and then March 2010 and now we hear that the proposal may not come up before the council until after the next General Election. If we get a change of government with new planning policies it could be the end of 2010 before Charnwood councillors come to vote on where the housing should go. And remember that in 2011 all our Charnwood councillors are up for re-election and they won't want to back a scheme that their consultation exercise has told them is deeply unpopular.

But it is far too early to think we have won. The planners will continue to plan. Delay is useful but it does not remove the planning blight that now affects all our houses and our precious countryside. We need to see this particular proposal dropped. This is why BABTAG will continue to campaign.
There is a need for housing in Leicestershire which BABTAG acknowledges. We can see the need for some new homes in our villages to breathe new life into our communities but we fiercely oppose this huge new town which will ruin a unique part of rural England.

So what has BABTAG actually done?

We've used the consultation process to register our reasoned opposition to the 5000 houses. You can read copies of our comments to Charnwood's Director of Development on such issues as traffic and roads on our website.

We've exposed the ambitions of the developers... the CEG Group, Savills and Red Row... to create a swathe of housing far in excess of 5000 stretching from Hamilton to Queniborough and by a big leaflet drop organised by ourselves and the Thurmaston Unite Group we've alerted Queniborough and Syston to the threat to their countryside and their identities

We've held civilised but not particularly productive meetings with representatives of the key developers, CEG, and also with John Pochin.

We've twice been to Loughborough to talk to the planners and learnt at one of those meetings of the possibility of reducing the number of houses in our area by splitting the development between Thurmaston and Anstey

We've discovered that planners don't really plan for the whole community. Too often they are led by the nose by landowners and developers.

We've found out that there is a surprising lack of liaison between Charnwood's planners and their colleagues in Harborough district and in the city of Leicester. Don't they realise that a development in one area must have a knock on, for example, in traffic congestion in the others?

We've twice contacted all 52 Charnwood councillors urging them to oppose the 5000 houses.

We've had useful meetings with our local councillors, Mike Preston and Paul Harley.

We've sought the support of our local MP Stephen Dorrill and talked to his Labour opponent Eric Goodyer

And we've been doing a bit of drum-banging to alert not only locals but all of Leicestershire and beyond to our cause.

Most notably we had the march through the village in April to erect the first of our Stop the 5000 houses banners and since then more banners, placards and wayside signs have sprouted throughout the threatened area. The march got good coverage on BBC TV, the Leicester Mercury and Radio Leicester but throughout the year our press releases which you can read in the purple ring binder have led to stories about BABTAG's activities in the local media.

We've got our own website which is being demonstrated here tonight by its creator Peter Welch. All our key documents are on it including our Downing St petition to the Prime Minister and our petition to Charnwood Borough Council.

Then of course there are our green leaflets which I've mentioned earlier. They will continue to drop through your letterboxes from time to time in the coming months.

So that's what BABTAG's been up to in the past 11 months but what can you do?

Well of course you can sign the petitions and give us a little cash but the most important thing that you can do is to write to the Director of Development of Charnwood Borough Council and to your local councillor expressing your objections and concerns about this plan for a new town of 5000 houses that so threatens us and our countryside. There are other solutions to the housing problem and by writing, emailing and talking to Charnwood, you can help persuade them to explore the alternatives, alternatives that could be far better for Charnwood as a whole in the long term.

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BABTAG launches Downing St. petition to stop 5000 houses being built over precious countryside

BABTAG's online petition to the Prime Minister will be launched at a fundraising event in Barkby village hall on Wednesday 11th November starting at 7pm. when supporters will be urged to sign by visiting:-
http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/BABTAG
There they will find the online petition which reads:-
"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to abandon the government's top down housing policy which has compelled Charnwood Borough Council to propose building a new town of 5000 dwellings on precious and productive countryside north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston."

Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG explains the wording of the petition:- "We do not think it right that our district council should be told where it has to build housing by the Regional Office of the Government. BABTAG wants to persuade Charnwood Borough Council to adopt a policy of encouraging natural growth in existing communities rather than grandiose schemes like the 5000 dwellings proposal but this requires a change in current government policy. We urge all concerned people to sign the petition.

BABTAG will also be petitioning Charnwood Borough Council calling on the local authority "to withdraw its proposal for a 5000 dwellings new town development north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston and replace it with a plan that allows for necessary growth in existing communities whilst protecting precious productive countryside and village identity"

BABTAG will also be petitioning Charnwood Borough Council calling on the local authority "to withdraw its proposal for a 5000 dwellings new town development north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston and replace it with a plan that allows for necessary growth in existing communities whilst protecting precious productive countryside and village identity"

Supporters will have choice of signing a paper petition or signing online by visiting the BABTAG website:-
www.babtag.co.uk

Council Delays
There have further delays in the timetable of the proposed development and no decision by Charnwood Council is likely before the spring of 2010 and possibly not till after the General Election.

The fundraising evening on November 11th will provide an opportunity to update villagers on the progress of the campaign and will feature a showing of a video of the parade of banners and placards through the village in April, a live demonstration of the BABTAG website and displays showing the Action Group's activities. Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG said:- "Delays may be welcome but they are no substitute for a decision not to concrete over our precious and productive countryside so for BABTAG the fight goes on. We are determined to keep this issue in the public eye and our recent leaflet, (see it on the attachments to this email) the petitions and this fundraising evening will do just that."

More information
Owen Bentley
Chairman BABTAG
0116 2692847
0788 7881733
email:- owen.bentley@barkbythorpe.demon.co.uk

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Stop the 5000!

An update from Owen Bentley Chairman of BABTAG (Barkby and Barkby Thorpe Parishes Action Group)

No decisions till the New Year
Charnwood Borough Council was to have decided in November to approve or reject the proposal to build 5000 dwellings on land north of Hamilton and east of Thurmaston. Now the proposal will not be put to the full council before March 2010 and that is not necessarily the end of the delays. The General Election looms with the potential of a change of Government and a change of the current policy that insists that 6000 houses should be built on the Leicester fringe. And it will only be a year later that Charnwood councillors are up for re-election in 2011 and they won't want to face the polls having voted for a development that 97% of the people who responded during the public consultation period did not want.

Splitting the 5000 houses between Thurmaston and Anstey
One of the reasons for the delay is that the council is considering other options. Because the original proposal brought such a storm of protest, not least from BABTAG, Charnwood Council has been looking into the possibility of splitting the development between Thurmaston and Anstey. Whilst it is good news that the Council is showing some flexibility we would still end up with a minimum of 2,500 new dwellings on our doorstep if even this least damaging option was adopted.

No Syston by-pass
A revised transport study has concluded that a development of 5000 houses and 20 hectares of employment land does not justify the building of a Syston by-pass to link in with a developer funded road running from Barkby Lane to Barkby Thorpe Road. So Syston folk may well get the aggravation of the development without the by-pass that the Town Council craves. There is of course, no guarantee in these straitened times that the developers will foot the new road and other infrastructure costs so Charnwood Council might well be left holding this singularly unattractive baby and who knows - might even drop it!

The campaign continues
Delays may be welcome but they are no substitute for a decision not to concrete over our countryside so for BABTAG the fight goes on. No-one driving through the parishes of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe this summer can have failed to notice the signs, placards and banners all with the "Stop the 5000 houses" strapline. We promise you more of these as the campaign moves on.

Representing the views of the villages
If we are to face down this new town proposal we'll need the support of Syston and the surrounding villages. We are really pleased that our parish council is seeking the support of all neighbouring councils so that we can present Charnwood with a united front.
BABTAG is regularly lobbying Charnwood councillors and planners and uses every opportunity afforded by the consultation processes involved in big planning decisions to get our reasoned opposition on the record. On our website www.babtag.co.uk you will find copies of all our submissions and of the press releases written to inform as many people as possible about the threat to our countryside and the prospect of massive traffic congestion and air pollution if the development goes ahead.

Autumn activities
BABTAG will be organising another leaflet drop in October to tell the people of the latest developments and what the campaign group has been doing to stop the 5000 houses. We'll also be plotting a lobby of the Charnwood Cabinet and Council at their decision-making meetings in February and March next year.
There will be a fund-raising social event in Barkby Village Hall in November when, over a glass of wine and a plate of food, the members of the BABTAG committee will be happy to answer your questions and relieve you of a little cash. We hope to see you there.

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BABTAG Meeting with Charnwood Borough Council

BABTAG MEETING WITH CHARNWOOD BOROUGH COUNCIL OFFICIALS AND LEADER OF THE COUNCIL AT SOUTHFIELDS ON 12 JUNE 2009

Present:

Mike Preston - Leader CBC
Dave Hankin - Director of Planning, CBC
Richard Bennett - Dep. Director of Planning
Tony Hetherington - Director of Transport
Owen Bentley, Pam Green, Nick Toms, Angela Barnett - BABTAG

Timeline and further public consultation on Charnwood 2026

Dave Hankin confirmed that the date of the Cabinet meeting had slipped to October, and the full Council vote on the SUE developments would take place in November - followed by a 6 week consultation period. The planners and the council would not be disclosing any modifications to the plans in the next three to four months. The revised development plans would be in the public domain (on the web) one week before the Cabinet meeting. Any changes to the area of the Thurmaston SUE would not require a recommencement of the whole planning process.

Housing Figures

Dave Hankin said that there was no change in the number of houses required by 2026. A review to be published in the first week of October would give the new household projections to 2031. There was likely to be a net increase regardless of Eastern Europeans leaving the UK. If all the proposed new houses were not needed by 2026 they would be by 2031. However if prosperity did not return, houses would not be built. A change of government with a commitment to devolve planning matters to district councils might impact on the scale of development.

Planners had to take an integrated view. A SUE had to be a self sustaining community. 5000 houses required a secondary school, 2500 houses required a primary school, doctors' surgery, recreational space, employment land etc. There was an aspirational view that people should live near their work. Planners must provide such components in all developments.

Richard Bennett gave the number of empty houses in Leicestershire excluding the city was 4574 at the end of March 2008. It was likely that the figure for Leicester was of the same order.

SHLAA Report

The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SCHLAA) looked at every bit of developable land over the next 15 years - including potential for employment. It was policy neutral and the figures did not contain the proposed SUE houses. It was a tool for planners. No new brownfield sites had been revealed by the report.

The Thurmaston brown field site overlooking Watermead was discussed. The council does not have power to purchase such sites, but it would be looked at in the light of the Thurmaston Action Area Plan. The other areas in this category were Shepshed and East Loughborough. GBP9 million had been earmarked for improving these deprived areas.

Transport

Tony Hetherington confirmed that Leicestershire County Council, the City Council and the Highways Agency were already looking at the recommendations in the Transport Assessments report. Cabinet would be informed of the transport implications of the proposed developments on the different areas - Thurmaston, Birstall and Anstey. Recommendations would be published just before the October Cabinet meeting. The Barkby rat run was discussed - including a proposal to close the road past the cricket ground. Fig 4.1 in the Transport Assessment showed the traffic through Barkby Thorpe using the Scraptoft Road was not perceived as a serious problem - a view disputed by BABTAG.

Infrastructure Costs

The funding gap identified in the Infrastructure Assessment was admitted by the planners but Dave Hankin believed it would be greatly reduced as it included such items as a Leicester tram service which would almost certainly never get the go-ahead. The districts were now doing localised work on the Infrastructure Assessment. The Hallamfields Birstall example was given: 900 homes + employment land = GBP10 million in infrastructure costs. Nonetheless Charnwood Borough Council had to make provision for 10,500 new homes. The funding issue would be discussed by the Leadership Board of the Economic Development Sector which had produced the Infrastructure Report and the Leadership Board would feed back into the Regional Plan. There would be horse-trading with developers. If a planning application did not provide the infrastructure, the permission would not be granted. A lot would depend on the length of the recession, but it was always a question of when - not if.

In the case of the Thurmaston SUE, CEG's permission to develop was dependent on the local authority which could always refuse to grant planning permission if the infrastructure was not to their liking. The planners agreed that a bypass east of Syston would not be developer-funded and was therefore unlikely to be built.

Dave Hankin outlined various funding streams which could be used to finance the development. They could bid to government, the Highways Authority had a pot of money, and revenue would come from the development itself in the form of council tax and other local taxes.

Alternatives to the Thurmaston SUE

It was agreed that the transport and infrastructure costs for 2,500 homes were favourable in Anstey. However there was not enough land for 5000 homes to be built in Anstey within the borders of the borough of Charnwood and Richard Bennett said there was no possibility of negotiating with Blaby to build 2,500 on adjacent land.

Wymeswold was still an option, but not much effort was being put into this area as no developer was promoting it. Also it was not adjacent to the PUA (Principal Urban Area) and developments must conform to the East Midlands Regional Plan.

The scale of housing need was great. If no new housing was provided between now and 2026 40% of households would have no house of their own to live in.

Dave Hankin confirmed that he had requested reports and figures for a range of options which included splitting the development rather than going for a single option. Birstall and Anstey were still in the frame as well as Thurmaston.

Dave Hankin said that he understood that BABTAG opposed all aspects of the Thurmaston SUE - but when decisions were made it would be to the advantage of BABTAG to have a fall-back position and to work with the planners.

Savills and Redrow

Shown a BABTAG map of the aspirations of the developers Dave Hankin thought that if Savills put in a planning application for land between Syston and Queniborough it would be refused as the location was well beyond any limits of the Thurmaston SUE. Redrow was more likely to gain planning permission.

Thurmaston Area Forum February 09

Dave Hankin apologised for the unanswered questions posed by BABTAG at the Thurmaston Area Forum and would ensure that written answers would be given.

Press release - 20th May 2009

HONOURING PROMISES - WHERE DO OUR LOCAL POLITICIANS STAND?

BABTAG (Barkby and Barkby Thorpe Parishes Action Group) has a question for all the candidates standing for the County Council seats in the South Charnwood area where 5000 homes are being proposed which, if adopted, will obliterate the rural identities of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe.

The question is do they stand by the pledge given by the Leicestershire County Council at the time of public consultation when Hamilton was about to be developed?

The pledge

"Assurances have been given in the past and they will be respected in the future" "The three villages - new development will not encroach upon Barkby, Barkby Thorpe and Beeby and they will retain their own physically separate characters and identities."

Signed assurance given by Donald Sabey, Director of Planning and Transportation Leicestershire County Council, November 1981 in pamphlet summarising the Hamilton District Plan published by the County Council in January 1982

Development within a few hundred yards of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe constitutes encroachment by any definition. So does the pledge have any meaning at all or is it a worthless scrap of paper? Do politicians and council officers ever honour commitments given in the past?

Owen Bentley
Chairman BABTAG
0116 2692847
Email: owen.bentley@barkbythorpe.demon.co.uk
www.babtag.co.uk

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Press release - 4th May 2009

FUNDING AND TRANSPORT PROBLEMS SHOULD KILL OFF SOUTH CHARNWOOD 5000 HOUSES DEVELOPMENT

Two recent local government reports cast doubts upon the viability of the Charnwood plan to build 5000 houses on productive farmland to the east of Thurmaston and the north of Hamilton according to BABTAG (Barkby and Barkby Thorpe Parishes Action Group).

Infrastructure

Both the "Southern Charnwood Transport Assessments" and the "Leicester and Leicestershire HMA (housing market area) authorities Growth Infrastructure Assessment", published in March and April this year point up the huge cost of building the infrastructure (in particular roads ands schools) to support the new town and the massive funding gap to be bridged before development can take place.

Across the county in the period to 2026 new infrastructure costs are put at GBP2,016 millions with only GBP522 millions of mainstream funding and GBP150 millions of developer funding to pay for them, leaving a funding gap of GBP1,344 millions.

In the past developers have paid for infrastructure including link roads and schools. In these harsh economic times this is no longer the case. According to the Growth Infrastructure Assessment "it means that Sustainable Urban Extensions (like the Thurmaston 5000 houses proposal) and other strategic sites will not be able to find infrastructure from developer contributions to any great extent. The pre-credit crunch approach of giving away development rights with a planning contributions price ticket attached will not work any more."

The report reveals that Charnwood can only expect GBP2.3millions in developer contributions for all its projects throughout the borough between now and 2026 yet the transport infrastructure alone of the Thurmaston proposal is estimated at GBP11 millions. Even if Charnwood manages to attract some new sources of government funding there is still likely to be a huge deficit.

Given this deficit, questions must be asked about the sense of proceeding with such a grandiose scheme when smaller scale developments partly using existing infrastructure must be an alternative. One such scheme, considered by the Transport Assessments for 2,500 dwellings at Anstey (GBP6 millions) is half the price of Thurmaston.

Transport

The Southern Charnwood Transport Assessments published in April provide plenty of ammunition to BABTAG and other opponents of the plan to build a new town of 5000 houses on countryside east of Thurmaston and north of Hamilton which is becoming known as the Thurmaston SUE (Sustainable Urban Extension).

The report calls for a bigger area to be developed than the one Charnwood based all its public consultations on in 2008, with extensions in the north joining on to Syston and in the south-east to Hamilton. If Charnwood borough council accepts this report, BABTAG will call for the consultation process to start again from scratch as the development area is so different from that proposed in widely distributed glossy booklets such as "Charnwood 2026 Planning for Our Next Generation".

The report also makes it clear that traffic congestion will be a problem in the new town. Despite new roads and bus and train options congestion is likely to increase from today's barely tolerable levels and could be running at 24% more than today. At the same time the Infrastructure Assessments warn that journeys out of the new development are likely to be higher than first thought. (By comparison the traffic mitigation measures proposed for a 2,500 dwelling development in Anstey projected real improvements (18%) to current congestion there.)

To keep traffic levels down in the Thurmaston SUE a bus corridor and a half-hour rail service to Leicester City Centre are seen as key mitigation factors, but they have not been costed or fully checked with the city and rail authorities.

Reducing traffic flows through Barkby and Barkby Thorpe is an acknowledged aim of the Transport Assessments but the current rat-run through Barkby and Barkby Thorpe to Tesco at Hamilton and to Scraptoft and thence to the A47 and via Stoughton to the A6 gets no mention. Traffic on this route will inevitably increase with 15,000 people living in the vicinity and there can be no prospect of reduced traffic flow on this route until the problem is addressed.

BABTAG says that the Transport Assessments through their findings and their omissions weaken rather than strengthen the case for the South Charnwood SUE.

MORE INFORMATION

Owen Bentley
Chairman BABTAG
0116 2692847
0788 788 1733
or visit www.babtag.co.uk

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Press release - 4th April 2009

DEVELOPERS' THREAT TO THURMASTON'S COUNTRYSIDE

BABTAG (Barkby and Barkby Thorpe Parishes Action Group) has been looking at all the responses to Charnwood Borough Council's consultation exercise on the borough's proposal to build 5000 dwellings on land to the east of Thurmaston and north of Hamilton. The overwhelming majority - 96% - of the representations made to the council were firmly against the proposal, but the would-be developers also used the consultation exercise to post their thinking on the Charnwood website (http://www.charnwood.gov.uk/charnwood2026). Three developers responded to Charnwood BC and, as their representations are in the public domain, BABTAG has produced a map showing the areas presented for development by Pegasus, Savills and Redrow, plus the Charnwood preferred option.

What does the sketch map show?

  1. The dark border shows the size of the area where Charnwood wishes to build 5000 dwellings.
  2. The shaded areas show land presented for development by Pegasus, Savills and Redrow in their public responses to Charnwood's consultation exercise.
Click to see the larger viewPlease click on the map to the left to see a large version.

PEGASUS

What is immediately noticeable is that the Pegasus area is much bigger, (450 hectares) and comes a lot closer to Barkby Thorpe and Barkby than the Charnwood preferred option (284 hectares).
It also includes to the north Green Wedge land. In their representation Pegasus point out that the area could support future additional growth beyond the 5000 dwellings sought by Charnwood.

SAVILLS

Savills wish to build 500 homes between Syston and Queniborough along the Queniborough Road north of Barkby. What is most interesting about their representation is that it falls a long way outside the area that Charnwood has identified as the favoured area for development.

REDROW

Redrow owns land that comes within one field of the deserted medieval village of Hamilton. Red Row proposes building houses on this land which adjoins the East Hamilton development site, which already has outline planning permission for 550 homes. Again, like Savills the area identified falls a good way outside the Charnwood preferred option.

BABTAG has produced this map to alert the residents of Thurmaston, Barkby, Syston and Queniborough to the threat to countryside posed if the developers' aspirations were to become reality.

MORE INFORMATION

On the BABTAG website www.babtag.co.uk
Owen Bentley, Chairman BABTAG Tel: 0116 2692847
Email: owen.bentley@barkbythorpe.demon.co.uk

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Press release - 5th March 2009

BABTAG issued the following statement covering our Heritage in Danger

The conservation villages of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe, the environs of the deserted medieval village of Hamilton and important archaeological sites, including a possible Roman temple complex, are all at risk from developers if the proposed SUE (Sustainable Urban Extension) east of Thurmaston and north of Hamilton gets the approval of Charnwood Borough councillors, claims BABTAG in its latest response to Charnwood 2026 (see below).

"We now know the thinking of the developers because we've seen their documents submitted to CBC as part of the consultation process over Charnwood 2026. Developers "Red Row" want to build just one field away from Hamilton DMV" says Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG "and the rural setting of the many listed building and farmhouses that make up Barkby and Barkby Thorpe is equally under threat from developers Pegasus Planning Group".

"Nor do we wish to lose key archaeological sites like the possible Roman temple complex south of Barkby Thorpe to housing and tarmac and BABTAG calls upon the Leicestershire County Council's archaeological team to undertake a new survey of the threatened area before any irreversible decisions are made". We have sent the following letter.

To the Director of Development, Charnwood Borough Council: Charnwood 2026 - East of Thurmaston North of Hamilton proposal

Loss of Heritage

The following representations amplify BABTAG's original comments on heritage issues contained within a broader case objecting to the development proposal sent to the Director of Development in December 2008.

In the intervening months BABTAG has been in touch with English Heritage and with the county archaeologists and has been able to call upon the knowledge of Keith Randon, a member of the Action Group, whose special interest is the heritage of the area now threatened with development.

BABTAG is at one with English Heritage on fundamental issues concerning the favoured SUEs in Charnwood 2026. We cannot agree with your "Vision" statement on page 20 of "Charnwood 2026 Planning for our Next Generation" which asserts that by 2026 "The essential characteristics and diversity of the Borough's landscape, ecology, heritage and built environment (will) have been preserved". We agree entirely with English Heritage "that development in these locations is not consistent with the aspiration" (stated above) and that "the overall level of growth will breach the environmental capacity of the area to accommodate this level of growth".

BABTAG also believes that the development east of Thurmaston north of Hamilton is inconsistent with the Borough's spatial objective SO9 (p23) "to protect the historic environment and identity of the Borough's locally distinctive towns, villages and neighbourhoods". Development so close to the conservation villages of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe, with their wealth of attractive 18th and 19th century buildings and farmhouses, cannot but weaken their visual and landscape appeal. Similarly, further building encroachment on the deserted medieval village of Hamilton, as envisaged by the developer Red Row, will destroy the setting of this key listed monument. At present the location is atmospheric and rural: and access is by a winding country road crossing an attractive stream. Hemmed in by housing it will be a sorry place - a mere few humps in a semi-urban environment.

BABTAG notes that the Charnwood planners and the would-be developers are somewhat dismissive of the archaeological importance of the east of Thurmaston north of Hamilton proposal with the exception of Hamilton DMV. However, all information supporting this view is itself historic as the county archaeologists have admitted to BABTAG that they have done no recent surveys on the area. In Barkby, the field-walking group headed by Keith Randon believes there is good evidence for Roman farmsteads/villas and even the possibility of a Roman temple in the area a quarter of a mile south of Barkby Thorpe which takes in Abbot's pond and spinney and the fields to the west of Barkby Thorpe Road. Appendix 1 (below) lists sites identified by Keith Randon as threatened by development.

Before the sites are even considered for development, BABTAG calls for a full up-to-date archaeological survey to be undertaken by the county archaeology team.

To summarise: if heritage arguments carry any weight, the east of Thurmaston north of Hamilton area is the wrong place for major urban development.

Appendix 1:

A summary of the important and identified sites threatened by development

Thurmaston Parish

MLE 1048 (SK627 095) Iron Age(?) Enclosure predating ridge and furrow.

Barkby Parish

MLE432 (SK625106) 3 Ring Ditches.
MLE433 (SK625 106) Pit Alignment.
MLE434 (SK625 106) Enclosure.
(All the above are in one field. The field immediately west also has many interesting cropmarks).
MLE435 (SK622101) Pit alignment, covers most of field and seems to carry on from the field above and then continue beyond the field boundary.
All the above thought to be Iron Age or Bronze Age.

Barkby Thorpe Parish

Firstly, all around the village there seem to be traces of when it was significantly larger maybe Saxon - Medieval.
The major item under threat is the Roman 'Temple'/Abbot's Pond complex (SK630 087) Temple, to (SK634 088) Pond.
Here has been found a hoard of Saxon coins, inhumations (MLE454) - possibly Romano-British as small R-B finds have come from this field. The pond itself may have been sacred for many hundreds of years. Near the Temple have been found some valuable Medieval items (MLE6660).
An iron Age enclosure is identified (MLE451 at SK635 084).

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Press release - 30th January 2009

Action Group contacts all 52 Charnwood councillors in bid to stop new town of 5000 houses in south Charnwood.

The Barkby and Barkby Thorpe Parishes Action Group (BABTAG) today emailed every Charnwood councillor as part of the group's campaign to resist the borough's plans to build a new town on 300 hectares of countryside to the east of Thurmaston and to the north of Hamilton. (See attachments for full texts.)

"Later this year the Charnwood councillors will be voting on the development proposal and we shall be looking for a "no" vote at the council meeting" said Owen Bentley, Chairman of BABTAG, "We are asking them to deal with the following 10 key points before they decide on how to cast their votes. We ask them to:-

  1. Question the housing figures imposed on Charnwood by the East Midlands Government Office.

  2. HOUSING FIGURES

    Why has Charnwood Borough Council not challenged the Government's contentious figure of 19,300 dwellings required in the borough? Are you aware that both Government and Opposition are revising their policies towards top-down diktats and there are moves at Leicestershire County Council to challenge the figures emanating from the Government office in Nottingham? Why should you vote on a major development based on a top-down regional spatial strategy that within six months could be abolished and decisions on the real number of dwellings required could be handed back to local authorities? This could happen if there is a change of Government in 2010.

  3. Be aware that green fields near Syston and Queniborough are being targeted by developers as well as farmland east of Thurmaston and north of Hamilton.

  4. Dispute the planning orthodoxy that there is no alternative to SUEs (Sustainable Urban Extensions).

  5. Welcome the new south Charnwood transport study but question how the east of Thurmaston north of Hamilton development option progressed so far with wholly inadequate traffic and transport research.

  6. Check that flooding and run-off from 5000 dwellings has been properly calculated.

  7. Resist the loss of 300 hectares of productive farmland.

  8. Reject the view that village identity can be preserved when 200 metres is the planners' yardstick for separation from a new town of 5000 dwellings.

  9. Value and protect the heritage and ecology of the rural haven surrounding Barkby and Barkby Thorpe.

  10. Prevent further urban encroachment on an area that has taken more than its fair share of development in the last 30 years."

For more information visit www.babtag.co.uk or contact:

BARKBY AND BARKBY THORPE PARISHES ACTION GROUP
15 Queen Street, Barkby Thorpe Leicester LE7 3QH
Chairman: Owen Bentley
Email: owen.bentley@barkbythorpe.demon.co.uk
Tel: 0116 2692847

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Press release - 16th January 2009

Local Action Group Fights Charnwood's proposal for 5000 Houses

Barkby and Barkby Thorpe Parishes Action Group (BABTAG) was set up at a public meeting in St Mary's Church, Barkby on 2nd December to oppose the building of a development the size of Syston on land to the east of Thurmaston and north of Hamilton towards Barkby, Syston and Queniborough. This is what it has done so far.

  1. Detailed objections to the proposed development were sent to Charnwood Council in response to the Borough's consultation exercise.

  2. Publicity for the BABTAG's objections appeared on Radio Leicester and in the Leicester Mercury.

  3. Common cause has been made with the Thurmaston Unite Group and there will be a leaflet drop in Barkby, Barkby Thorpe, Syston and Queniborough alerting residents to the proposed development and urging them to contact their local Charnwood councillors.

  4. Meetings have been organised with the Charnwood Borough planners and our local MP Stephen Dorrell where BABTAG can voice its concerns not least over traffic and flooding.

  5. Key information is being gathered on the quality of the threatened agricultural land, on the development companies that have approached Charnwood and on heritage and wildlife sites at risk.

  6. Large banners will shortly be appearing in prominent positions in Barkby and Barkby Thorpe alerting villagers and the passers by to the potential loss of precious productive countryside.

  7. A website has been set up - www.babtag.co.uk - carrying up to the minute news and information about BABTAG's activities.

In the next months BABTAG will hammer home the following messages.

  1. The new town on our doorstep is not inevitable.

  2. Charnwood Borough Councillors have yet to vote on the scheme and there is every reason to campaign for a majority vote against the East of Thurmaston and North of Hamilton development.

  3. Statistics on population increase and numbers of dwellings needed by 2026 can be challenged.

BABTAG Chairman: Owen Bentley
Tel: 0116 269 2847
Email: owen.bentley@barkbythorpe.demon.co.uk

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Press release - 5th December 2008

Initial Comments on the Charnwood 2026 Plan by the Barkby and Barkby Thorpe Parishes Action Group

The Barkby and Barkby Thorpe Parishes Action Group was set up at a public meeting of villagers on December 2nd in the parish church of St Mary following a public consultation exercise on the 2026 Plan with officers of Charnwood Borough Council held in Barkby Village Hall on 19th November.

The objectives of the Action Group are:-

  1. To oppose through reasoned argument the proposal to build 5000 new houses and to provide 50 hectares of employment land in an area to the east of Thurmaston and north of Hamilton (Option 7C).

  2. To defend the identity and integrity of Barkby, Barkby Thorpe and Hamilton Grounds.

  3. To run a public campaign targeting opinion formers and the local media.

As Charnwood Borough Council (CBC) did not see fit to hold a consultation meeting in Barkby until pressed by the Barkby and Barkby Thorpe Parish council and because that meeting did not take place until two weeks before the deadline for comments on the 2026 Plan to be sent to the CBC there has been little time for the Action Group to consider the Plan and to formulate its objections. What follows, therefore, are initial comments which the Group expects to expand on in future meetings with CBC.

Scale of the Development

This is a new town in all but name, with infrastructure to match with a town centre, schools, clinics and provision for industrial areas, open spaces and even gypsy and traveller pitches. The Action Group vehemently opposes the proposal is to build a town the size of Syston on good farmland that currently separates Barkby and Barkby Thorpe from Thurmaston and the Leicester suburb of Hamilton.

We object to it on the following grounds:-

  1. The case for 5000 new dwellings in this location and for 19,300 in Charnwood overall has not yet been confirmed by the East Midlands Regional Plan which is still awaiting ministerial approval and is out of kilter with the Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Structure Plan adopted as recently as 2005 but now discarded which called for less than 3000 units in the Charnwood sector of the Central Leics. Policy area.

  2. The Charnwood plan makes nil reference to the development proposals of the city of Leicester and the Harborough District Council in the area contiguous to the 7C proposed development. This appears to be planning in a vacuum.

  3. The track record of new towns is not good. Such artificial constructs often fail in building real communities. Smaller "bolt-on" developments (which the Plan dismisses cavalierly) are worthy of much closer attention.

  4. The area has already had its fair share of urban development. No reference is made in the Plan to major developments which have already taken place or are already taking place which have had or will have a substantial impact on the two villages in terms of traffic congestion, landscape and village integrity. Major developments in Hamilton, on Barkby Thorpe Road, and in Syston have all encroached on the rural nature of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe. Further development will alter beyond recognition the nature of the two rural communities.

  5. Given the priority given to industrial areas, traveller pitches and affordable housing it is not at all clear in these times of recession who will choose to live in the new development if, indeed, investors can be found to build the new town, its roads and infrastructure.

Loss of Agricultural Land

  1. Option 7C envisages building a new town on Grade 2 and 3 farmland. The 2026 Plan makes much of the need for sustainability and to combat climate change but at a stroke takes away hundreds of hectares of prime land that should be used in the future for food production and renewables.

  2. There is no reference to the loss of agricultural land in the paragraphs referring to the chosen Option 7C. This is a surprising omission, particularly as such loss is listed in the advantage/disadvantage lists in two of the other options in the appendix relating to much the same area.

  3. In other Options referring to much the same land, The Council admits in its Sustainability Appraisal that it does not know how much of the land falls into the 3a category (prime agricultural land). Given that the Leicestershire Structure Plan spells out that such land should not be developed it is surprising that the CBC does not know the agricultural value of the land it threatens to build on.

  4. Loss of agricultural land will impact severely on the livelihoods of the three working farms in Barkby Thorpe and the two at Hamilton grounds and change the nature of the hamlets. Farms in Barkby will be similarly affected.

Integrity and Identity of the Communities of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe

  1. Option 7C states that "this proposal will need to take account of the separate identities of ...Barkby and Barkby Thorpe" yet the council officer at the consultation meeting in Barkby on 19th November, when pressed, admitted that development would come within 200 metres of the hamlet of Barkby Thorpe. Such proximity will obliterate the identity of Barkby Thorpe and seriously compromise that of Barkby.

  2. The identity of Barkby Thorpe is entirely formed by its working farms. Their survival puts farming and therefore the real identity of the community in serious jeopardy.

  3. The Charnwood Plan with its 200 metre separation appears to be in direct contradiction to the Leicestershire Structure Plan 2005 which in its Strategy Policy 7 Separation of Settlements stated:- "development will be permitted only where it would not result in a material reduction in the degree of separation between the neighbouring built-up areas".

Impact upon the landscape, wildlife and heritage

  1. The development envisaged is not confined to the bowl of low-lying land which skirts the land rising to the ridge on which Barkby Thorpe is situated but will climb those very ridges to within 200 meters of the hamlet resulting in the loss forever of the rural prospect.

  2. Wildlife habitats, landscape features such as the historic Abbot's Pond and Roman remains will be lost for future generations.

Traffic and Road congestion

The Plan is mealy-mouthed about the impact that traffic serving 5000 new homes will have on Barkby and Barkby Thorpe stating "Additional highway links and traffic management measures may be needed to mitigate the impact of traffic on the nearby communities of Barkby and Barkby Thorpe". The CBC knows from numerous traffic surveys conducted in recent years that traffic through both villages is at an intolerable level already. Absolute gridlock is inevitable without a definite commitment to new roads and serious traffic management.

Danger of Flooding

Whilst there is some reference in the plan to flood protection the danger of flooding in communities near the Soar cannot be over-emphasised. The run-off from 5000 dwellings and the roads and tarmac serving them will be huge. A full-scale survey needs to be undertaken to assess whether such a massive addition to the built environment is viable if flooding is to be avoided.

Alternatives

The Action Group does not at this stage presume to play "beggar my neighbour" by wishing this scale of development away from Barkby and Barkby Thorpe to other areas within Charnwood as it does not have intimate knowledge of the other sites that were considered and have since been rejected. This is a task for the CBC. The task of the Action Group is to prevent the spoliation of a unique corner of rural Leicestershire.

Population/housing

Further to the comments and objections sent by email and post on Wednesday 3rd December please take note of the following comments and questions on the mismatch between projected population growth and the number of dwellings the CBC is planning to build.

Charnwood Borough Council has published two sets of figures for population growth in the borough. Is projection to 2116 is for a growth of 6,200 and to 2029 of 12,500.

Its target of dwellings till 2026 is 19,300 with 10,000 already planned for.

Even taking into account the CBC's belief that household formation is set to rise to almost three times the rate of the population growth the target of 19,200 seems excessive. If, for example, the occupancy of new dwellings was to be as low an average of two per dwelling only 6,250 new homes would be required. This figure could surely be accommodated within the 10,000 dwellings already planned.

The Action Group requests answers to the following questions.

  1. What is the explanation for the discrepancy?
  2. Why is the CBC accepting a target from government that it cannot itself validate?
  3. Why is the CBC pursuing developments which its own figures show to be unnecessary?

Transport study

The Action Group has also taken note of the County Council's serious reservations about the transport study undertaken by the CBC and requests a copy of this document.

Future consultation

The Action Group expects to be consulted by CBC at every stage in the further consideration of Charnwood 2026.

Owen Bentley
Chairman
Barkby and Barkby Thorpe Parishes Action Group

15 Queen St. Barkby Thorpe Leicester LE 7 3QH Tel: 0116 2692847 Mobile: 0788 7881733
Email: owen.bentley@barkbythorpe.demon.co.uk

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