Temporary reprieve for Big Pit as councillors review decision
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.