Tem­po­rary re­prieve for Big Pit as coun­cil­lors re­view de­ci­sion

Hinckley Times - - NEWS -

CON­TRO­VERSY con­tin­ues around plans to fill in and build homes on Hinck­ley’s Big Pit, de­spite the lat­est ap­pli­ca­tion be­ing tem­po­rar­ily shot down.

A bid from so­cial hous­ing group Or­bit to con­struct 60 dwellings there was de­feated at Hinck­ley and Bos­worth Bor­ough Coun­cil’s lat­est plan­ning meet­ing.

Vig­or­ous pub­lic op­po­si­tion and coun­cil­lors’ con­cerns about the suit­abil­ity of the site led to the 12-4 de­feat on a “minded to refuse” ba­sis.

It means the pro­ject will re­turn to a fu­ture plan­ning meet­ing, fol­low­ing fur­ther scru­tiny by coun­cil­lors.

At the sub­se­quent full coun­cil meet­ing, two days later, fol­low­ing fur­ther out­cry dur­ing dis­cus­sion of the Big Pit protest pe­ti­tion, re­view ac­tion was pledged.

How­ever, a spokesper­son for the site own­ers says plan­ning per­mis­sion for the site is al­ready es­tab­lished.

They said: “It’s a brown­field site, mean­ing it has been pre­vi­ously used for in­dus- trial or com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity.

“It is pri­vate land and there­fore other than a small num­ber of mem­bers of the fish­ing club it has never been open to the pub­lic.

“No ev­i­dence of a spring has ever come to light af­ter com­pletely de­wa­ter­ing.

“We have been seek­ing to work with all par­ties con­cerned to bring for­ward a high qual­ity res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment to pro­vide much needed af­ford­able hous­ing in Hinck­ley.

“Ex­ten­sive tech­ni­cal stud­ies have found no ev­i­dence that the site is spring fed and the En­vi­ron­ment Agency and Lead Lo­cal Flood Author­ity have raised no ob­jec­tions.

“The En­vi­ron­ment Agency in par­tic­u­lar have com­mented that the pro­posed area of re-in­stated wa­ter­course within the de­vel­op­ment would ac­tu­ally pro­vide a net ben­e­fit in re­duc­ing flood risk by pro­vid­ing a man­aged area to col­lect sur­face wa­ter run-off from the Sun­ny­side Brook.

“With no tech­ni­cal ob­jec­tions and the prin­ci­ple of the in-fill­ing of the pit and the prin­ci­ple of res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment on the site hav­ing al­ready been es­tab­lished, there is no sound plan­ning rea­son for the coun­cil to not sup­port the plans when brought for­ward to plan­ning com­mit­tee again in Jan­uary.”

At the full coun­cil meet­ing, coun­cil­lors agreed to launch an in­quiry af­ter con­cerns were raised by protestors.

A bor­ough coun­cil spokesman said: “At the meet­ing of the full coun­cil on Thurs­day De­cem­ber 7, mem­bers re­solved to set up a work­ing group to re­view con­cerns raised by res­i­dents and mem­bers re­lat­ing to the de­vel­op­ment and fu­ture of the land known as Big Pit, Ashby Road, Hinck­ley.

“The group will be formed un­der the overview and scru­tiny func­tion. The nec­es­sary ar­range­ments are be­ing made for this.”

De­spite the hous­ing ap­pli­ca­tion floun­der­ing, cam­paign­ers are gear­ing up to face fur­ther ap­peals.

Dan Stokes, a lead­ing mem­ber of the Big Pit Re­sis­tance Group, said: “With the risk of flood­ing and land sub­si­dence and the de­struc­tion of a wildlife habi­tat, it ac­tu­ally raises the ques­tion of why any­body would sug­gest de­vel­op­ing here, es­pe­cially when there are more suit­able, al­ter­na­tive sites avail­able.”

Cam­paign­ers are re­quest­ing a meet­ing with Or­bit rep­re­sen­ta­tives prior to the next coun­cil plan­ning meet­ing in Jan­uary to dis­cuss the op­tions on the ta­ble and of­fer the ev­i­dence and facts they have gath­ered.

It is claimed a list of 16 ques­tions sub­mit­ted by the Big Pit Re­sis­tance Group to Or­bit have not been for­mally an­swered.

Pre­vi­ously Or­bit have in­sisted all con­cerns, in­clud­ing flood risk, have been re­sponded to by ex­pert anal­y­sis and the de­vel­op­ment is tech­ni­cally sound.

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