Bat­tle over Bos­worth

MIRA wants to build new track on small part of the bat­tle­field site

Hinckley Times - - FRONT PAGE - DAN MARTIN hinck­ley­times@reach­


IT proved to be a skir­mish rather than a de­ci­sive clash when coun­cil­lors met to dis­cuss whether to al­low a £26 mil­lion driver­less ve­hi­cle test­ing track to be built on part of Bos­worth Bat­tle­field.

The ap­pli­ca­tion by Horiba Mira to con­struct the 83-acre com­plex by its ex­ist­ing tech­nol­ogy park off the A5 at Higham on the Hill went be­fore Hinck­ley and Bos­worth Bor­ough Coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee last week.

Politi­cians were asked to weigh up whether al­low­ing the Gov­ern­ment- backed project to pro­ceed would bring enough pub­lic ben­e­fits to out­weigh the loss of a small por­tion of the bat­tle­field where Richard III lost his life and crown to Henry Tu­dor in 1485.

After about an hour-and-a-half of dis­cus­sion, coun­cil­lors voted not to make a de­ci­sion but de­fer the mat­ter to a later meet­ing in the hope Horiba Mira can re­con­fig­ure its scheme in a way that pre­serves the bat­tle­field in its en­tirety.

One of the main points of con­tention from ob­jec­tors was this plan had some­how been kept se­cret dur­ing a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod.

Although the pro­pos­als to ex­pand the tech­nol­ogy park have been widely pub­li­cised for some time, many peo­ple only be­came aware of the fact the project would in­trude into the regis­tered bat­tle­field a week be­fore the plan­ning meet­ing, after it was re­vealed by news­pa­pers.

Many his­tory groups were up­set they were not con­sulted by the coun­cil.

The coun­cil did seek the views of all statu­tory con­sul­tees. Th­ese in­clude High­ways Eng­land, Na­tional Grid and the flood au­thor­i­ties.

Her­itage watch­dog His­toric Eng­land was also con­sulted.

It did not ob­ject but warned some harm would be caused to the bat­tle­field and said the coun­cil would have to jus­tify the pub­lic ben­e­fits of the scheme would out­weigh that harm be­fore grant­ing per­mis­sion.

Plan­ning con­sul­tant Gra­ham War­rener rep­re­sented Horiba Mira at the coun­cil meet­ing.

He told coun­cil­lors the aim was to cre­ate a world-lead­ing fa­cil­ity to fur­ther driver­less car tech­nol­ogy.

He said the Gov­ern­ment wanted the UK to be the go to place for the tech­nol­ogy and that am­bi­tion was un­der­pinned by Trusted In­tel­li­gent Connected Au­ton­o­mous Ve­hi­cle – TIC-IT.

He said the scheme would cre­ate 2,000 di­rect and in­di­rect jobs and be a sig­nif­i­cant wealth cre­ator for the area.

Coun­cil plan­ning team leader He­len Knott said the scheme would have lo­cal, re­gional and na­tional ben­e­fits.

Mr War­rener also said the project had al­ready im­proved the un­der­stand­ing of the bat­tle­field as Univer­sity of Le­ices­ter arche­ol­o­gists had car­ried out 10 stud­ies of part of the plan’s prepa­ra­tion.

He said there would be fur­ther com­puter mod­el­ling of the wider area if the scheme was ap­proved.

Le­ices­ter­shire County Coun­cil has ob­jected to plans to cre­ate a tem­po­rary road ac­cess to get ag­gre­gates on to the site from Fenn Lane.

Horiba Mira said it would be used for five months of a year­long con­struc­tion pe­riod.

County Hall said the ru­ral lane will not be able to safely cope with 76 lor­ries com­ing and go­ing ev­ery day. The county coun­cil wants lor­ries to use the main Mira en­trance of the A5.

Mr War­rener said that en­trance and the road through the ex­ist­ing fa­cil­ity could not take such large ve­hi­cles.

Bor­ough coun­cil plan­ner agree with Horiba Mira and said the road would be tem­po­rary.

Horiba has said it would pay for the restora­tion of the lane should any dam­age be caused to it.

One neigh­bour who lives 45 me­tres from the bound­ary of the site has com­plained about po­ten­tial noise from ve­hi­cles trav­el­ling at up to 155mph – par­tic­u­larly the gun­ning of en­gines and the screech­ing of tyres and brakes.

En­vi­ron­men­tal health of­fi­cers from the bor­ough coun­cil are happy there would not be noise pol­lu­tion is­sues.

DIS­PUTED AREA: The site, out­lined in red, with Fenn Lanes run­ning right to left at the top of the im­age

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