New Local Plan Options
Why do we need to provide land for more jobs?
110. The economic climate is one of continual, often cyclical, change. Businesses perpetually start, grow, and die. At each stage of their lifecycle businesses contribute to the economic wellbeing of the District, provide services for residents and provide jobs for people who may live locally or further afield. As the population grows and the economy improves the need for jobs and the demand for employment land increases.
111. Fewer traditional industries, more office based occupations, and changes in technology and working practices have all affected the demand for jobs and the location, type and amount of land required by business. Harborough has high economic activity rates, low unemployment, and one of the strongest skills profiles in the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) area. These positive indicators are mirrored in terms of enterprise density and mix and business survival. The District also has a prominent profile for strategic distribution, via Magna Park, being part of an area / cluster of areas referred to as the ‘Golden Triangle’ which continues to experience high demand for warehouse units over 10,000m2 from large international companies
112. The Core Strategy sets out how Harborough’s employment needs will be met, but is based on outdated evidence and it does not allocate sites or provide specific policies. Planning positively for the sustainable development of homes, and the development needs of business is one of the core planning principles set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Supporting businesses to enable them to grow and increase skills and training is a Council priority.
How much employment land do we need to provide?
113. We must plan for new jobs and employment land to meet the needs of Harborough District and to support the wider sub-regional economy. The amount of employment space needed for office, industrial and warehouse uses in Harborough to 2031 is forecast by the Leicester and Leicestershire Housing Market Area Employment Land Study (published 2008, and updated 2013). This calculated the number of new jobs needed (6,400 full time equivalent (FTE)) and converted this into amounts of land required: see Figure 19.
Research and Development
Light Industrial (B1c)
Small Storage and Distribution
(B8 <10,000 m2)
(B8 > 10,000 m2)
(at March 2012)
(Demand – Supply)
Figure 19: Forecast employment land requirements for Harborough District to 2031
114. The amount of land needed for strategic warehousing set out in the Leicester and Leicestershire Housing Market Area Employment Land Study (2013) has since been superseded by the Leicester and Leicestershire Strategic Distribution Sector Study (2014). Requirements in the later 2014 study are not broken down by individual district, however, the study recommends that Harborough District contributes towards meeting a shortfall (under-supply) of 107ha of land required at non-rail served strategic distribution sites during the plan period to 2031. The 2014 study also recommends that an amount of rail-served sites should be provided. However, such sites do not exist within Harborough District, and as such will not be met through the new Local Plan.
115. Since 2012, some new employment land has been committed through the granting of planning permission and through allocation in neighbourhood plans (see Appendix E), whilst some has been lost to other uses. As a result the supply position and the balance to 2031 have changed. Based on the outstanding employment commitments (as at March 2015), the District’s estimated residual employment requirement (i.e. the amount of additional employment land we need to plan for and provide) to 2031, is estimated in Figure 20 as follows:
Research and Development
Light Industrial (B1c)
Small Storage and Distribution
(B8 <10,000 m2)
(B8 > 10,000 m2)
|Estimated Residual Employment Land requirement||Over-supply of 25,602 m2 floorspace||Under-supply of 7ha (this assumes retention and protection of existing employment sites as set out in para. 118)||Potentially contributing to the Under-supply of 107ha of non-rail served sites needed across the Leicestershire sub-region|
How will provision for new jobs and employment land be met?
116. The new Local Plan will set out a strategy to affirm the District’s ‘Open for Business’ prospectus. It will seek to provide a choice of attractive and viable employment sites, particularly industrial sites, across the District through:
- Retaining and protecting the most important existing employment areas for ongoing employment use where they are ‘fit for purpose’, and relinquish them where not. The list of existing employment sites proposed to be retained and protected through policy can be found at Appendix F. Peaker Park and other more recently completed employment sites will be assessed and considered for inclusion.
- Encouraging the delivery of outstanding employment commitments including some existing undeveloped allocations from the 2001 Local Plan and more recent allocations made through neighbourhood plans (see Appendix E);
- Identifying a small number of new employment allocations (see Appendix G, paragraphs 126 and 127 below) for potential employment allocations) in order to meet the estimated residual land requirement to 2031, provide choice and flexibility and offset any reduction in the number of existing employment sites which are retained
- Making a contribution to non-rail served strategic distribution provision across Leicester and Leicestershire; and
- Setting out site specific policies for Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground and Leicester Airfield (Stoughton) in order to positively manage their future development.
Where will new land for employment be provided?
117. The table at Appendix H shows how new employment land is proposed to be distributed across the District under the 9 options set out in Section 5. The following paragraphs explain how the proposed distribution has been arrived at in more detail. Paragraphs 118 – 127 deal with the approach to the distribution of general employment land whilst paragraphs 128 – 138 set out the options relating to land for strategic distribution.
Continuing Current Distribution of Development (Options 1 – 3)
118. All of the employment options focus the bulk of new employment provision (other than for strategic distribution) in Market Harborough (10ha) to strengthen its established role as the primary economic centre of the District. At least 4ha of employment land is identified at Lutterworth, to help to consolidate its key centre status. In combination this provision will help to address the District’s shortfall of industrial land and help to offset the potential loss of non-protected existing sites to 2031. It will also reflect the Market Harborough Strategic Development Area (SDA) Master Plan commitment to deliver additional employment land, and concentrate jobs in areas of greatest labour supply which are most readily accessible by sustainable modes of transport.
119. Provision of approximately 3ha is proposed at Fleckney in the new Local Plan to help to balance jobs with relatively high potential housing growth in this settlement and to reflect employment land availability.
120. No additional employment land provision is proposed at Broughton Astley owing to employment allocations in its recently adopted Neighbourhood Plan. Similarly land is already allocated for employment in Billesdon via its Neighbourhood Plan. No provision is made in the Kibworths, due to a shortage of potential employment sites outside of the potential Strategic Development Areas.
121. Provision is proposed via a small number of individual employment site allocations (see paras. 126 and 127 and Settlement Section 13). These proposals provide more land than the residual employment land requirement figure identified in Figure 20 in order to provide choice and flexibility, enable the District to better respond to future market demand and offset any reduction in the number of existing employment sites which are retained.
122. No employment allocations are envisaged below Rural Centre level (as identified in Figure 4, Section 4), although a criteria based policy is envisaged to support the retention of existing employment sites in Selected Rural Villages and to a lesser degree sub-Selected Rural Villages and other settlements elsewhere within rural parts of the District.
Options involving delivery of 1 or 2 Strategic Development Areas (Options 4 – 9)
123. Options 4-9 each involve the delivery of 1 or more SDAs. Alongside the housing provision, with the exception of Option 4 (Scraptoft / Thurnby SDA), they all deliver varying amounts of employment land extra to that envisaged in Options 1 - 3. No additional employment provision is proposed in Option 4 because this was not proposed as part of the Scraptoft / Thurnby SDA as submitted through the recent Call for Sites exercise undertaken by the Council. The amount of employment provision included within Options 5-9 is derived from specific developer proposals. Options 5-9 result in a higher level of employment provision being made for the District as a whole, compared with what the evidence says the District needs. However, this recognises the long lead time for implementing SDAs and that employment often forms part of the latter phases of such development.
124. The Settlement Section 13 (paragraphs 178 – 225) outline in more detail the likely implications of the employment options for larger settlements. Your views are invited on the alternative options in respect of general employment provision (see Question 3 at the end of Section 5).
Potential general employment site allocations
125. All general employment (non strategic distribution) land needs to 2031 are expected to be provided for through the allocation of sites in either the new Local Plan or in neighbourhood plans. This is to assist in bringing the sites forward and to safeguard them for employment use. Work on assessing the sustainability of sites is still ongoing; however, it is likely that most of the potential general employment sites submitted to the Council (apart from in relation to strategic distribution) will need to be allocated to meet the employment land requirements detailed at Appendix H.
126. The pool of potential employment allocations is for illustrative purposes only at this stage, and is set out below and in Appendix G (where available the site’s Harborough District Council Employment Land Availability Assessment 2012 reference number is given in brackets):
- Land at Airfield Farm, Market Harborough (as per North West Market Harborough Strategic Development Area Master Plan)
- Land adjacent to Bowden Business Village, Market Harborough (E/001M/11)
- Land adjacent to M1 / South of Lutterworth Road, Lutterworth (E/005LT/11)
- Land off Marlborough Way, Fleckney (E/001RC/11)
- Undeveloped parts of sites previously allocated (in the 2001 Harborough Local Plan) at: Airfield Business Park, Market Harborough; Compass Point Business Park, Market Harborough; and Peaker Park, Market Harborough.
127. In addition, there is a further site to the south of Lutterworth Road / Coventry Road, Lutterworth (E/001LT/11) which has flooding issues on part of the site. However, it could potentially deliver some employment opportunities following the appropriate amendment of its boundaries to exclude the flooding area.
Provision for Strategic Distribution
128. Magna Park is a major strategic distribution park, home to established national and international businesses. It covers some 200ha with 922,000m2 of distribution floorspace (source www.lutterworth.magnapark.co.uk/). Phases 1 and 2 are now fully developed, except for 11ha covered by outstanding commitments. Magna Park provides jobs for District residents but also draws significant labour from an extensive surrounding area.
129. Following the completion of the Leicester and Leicestershire Strategic Distribution Sector Study (2014) which identified the M1 corridor south of Leicester as a Key Area of Opportunity for road linked distribution and a subsequent Call for Sites, a number of sites on the edge of Magna Park have been put forward through the plan-making process for potential strategic distribution use. Additional opportunities to potentially accommodate these uses also exist at a site on the edge of Shawell village and at another adjoining the M1 Junction 20 which forms part of the potential Lutterworth Strategic Development Area.
130. Two of the sites on the edge of Magna Park are the subject of current planning applications as follows:
- Planning Application Ref: 15/00919/FUL. Proposal for erection of 100,844 m2 storage and distribution (B8) centre on 55ha of land adjacent to the north west edge of Magna Park; and
- Planning Application Ref: 15/00865/OUT. Outline proposal for the erection of up to 278,709 m2 of storage and distribution (B8) floorspace on 89ha of land to the south of Magna Park.
131. The third site of approximately 220ha exists to the north west of Magna Park for which it is understood a planning application is currently being prepared. It is expected that the outline application will include 500,000 m2 of storage and distribution floorspace (source: www.lutterworth.magnapark.co.uk/).
132. In terms of the new Local Plan, the evidence supports the allocation of some additional land for strategic distribution use (large B8 units > 10,000m2), hence is not considered reasonable to include an option of no additional growth. We are focussing in this Options Consultation Paper on options for the allocation of land adjoining Magna Park as these offer a range of potentially deliverable alternatives adjoining this established development. We will consider other opportunities that may come forward during the period this new Local Plan is under preparation. The options reflect those sites for which planning applications have either been submitted or are envisaged, which together provide a pool to contribute to employment development under any / each of the 3 strategic distribution options.
STRATEGIC DISTRIBUTION OPTION A
133. This option would redefine the footprint of the site to encompass adjacent areas covered by recent planning consents and to provide a limited amount of extra land (in relative terms) to the north of the existing site. This is to enable the expansion of existing occupiers and facilitate the ‘recycling’ of existing plots to help retain and support the growth of existing companies. Although the relevant planning application (15/00919/FUL) sets out a site size of 55ha, much of this is related to access arrangements and is not operational. Therefore the site area has been amended from the planning application to 37ha to reflect more closely the operational site area that is expected to be in direct use for employment purposes. As a result, this proposal would increase the size of Magna Park by approximately 20% (37ha) into the surrounding countryside with up to 100,844 m2 of land dedicated to operational strategic distribution development at and adjacent to Magna Park.
STRATEGIC DISTRIBUTION OPTION B
134. This option would deliver another distribution park to the south of Magna Park, reflecting its successful location, and deliver a significant contribution to meeting future strategic distribution need within Leicester and Leicestershire for non-rail served strategic warehousing. Based on developer site proposals (planning application ref:15/00865/OUT), this option would provide up to 278,709 m2 of storage and distribution on a site of 89ha of land. This would enable significant growth at this location, during the middle to end of the plan period. The approach would provide some continuity of supply for what is a growing sector in this area.
STRATEGIC DISTRIBUTION OPTION C
135. Option C recognises the national significance of the ’Golden Triangle’ and the considerable growth potential of the Strategic Distribution sector. Based on developer submissions (through the Call for Sites) this option would include a substantial expansion of the existing Magna Park to enable up to 500,000 m2 of distribution warehousing on 220ha of land with space for a Country Park, and other ancillary uses. This option incorporates the 37ha of land identified under Option A. It would enable the District and wider sub-region to capture a larger share of forecast growth in the strategic distribution sector. This would represent a third phase of development at Magna Park and would essentially enable the site to continue to grow at historic development rates to 2031and potentially beyond.
136. Provision at this scale would exceed significantly the undersupply of non-rail strategic distribution land set out in the Leicester and Leicestershire Strategic Distribution Sector Study (2014) for the whole of Leicester and Leicestershire, and would potentially be contrary to its recommended strategy of providing a range and choice of sites. Projected job creation would support in-commuting, and whilst exceeding the total number of new jobs needed by the District for the full plan period to 2031, this option would contribute to the job growth target for strategic distribution in Leicester and Leicestershire as a whole, as well as the job needs of adjoining areas.
Assessment of impacts of Strategic Distribution Options
137. Expansion of strategic distribution use under all of these options will require further assessment relating to their impact on landscape character, noise, light and other environmental effects. Impacts on the local and national road network will also need to be assessed including, but not limited to the A5 / M1 Junction 20. Opportunities for local infrastructure improvements, economic and community benefit may also arise. Such impacts may be greater if delivered in combination with a potential Strategic Development Area in Lutterworth under Options 6, 8 or 9.
138. Options A, B and C are shown schematically on the map in Appendix I. The Council is committed to meeting the requirements of the statutory ‘Duty to Cooperate’ with neighbouring councils and other stakeholders in full as an integral part of the preparation process for the new Local Plan.
Q8. We’d like to know which Strategic Distribution Option(s) you favour.
Please click on the pencil icon next to the relevant Option(s) and state whether you SUPPORT or OBJECT TO this option. Please explain your answer. If you would like to suggest a completely different option for providing for Strategic Distribution growth, or a hybrid of the options we have proposed, please describe it here.
- Strategic Distribution Option A
- Strategic Distribution Option B
- Strategic Distribution Option C
Site Specific Employment Areas
139. The following sections introduce the proposed policy approach to two specific sites within the District, in order to positively manage their development within the plan period to 2031.
Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground
140. Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome and Proving Ground is a privately owned airport near the village of Bruntingthorpe. It has a history of use for high-performance car testing, the testing of other vehicles, and vehicle storage. It houses a ‘Cold War’ jet-aircraft museum with around twenty aircraft from that era. Other activities include a car auction and the restoration and dismantling of aircraft. As well as car testing, Bruntingthorpe offers facilities for car auctioning, storage of cars and aircraft, film production, military/civilian testing of large scale / heavy equipment and vehicles. On the edge of the Proving Ground is an industrial estate and facility providing space for event hosting and product launches. The Proving Ground benefits from a mature tree screen which serves to limit its visibility when viewed from surrounding areas.
141. It is proposed that the new Local Plan will contain a new site allocation policy to manage positively future development at Bruntingthorpe, while protecting local communities from adverse noise and traffic generation. There are no development or policy options at this stage but as part of the ongoing preparation of the new Local Plan for the District, officers of the Council will continue to work with the site owners and representatives of the local community to develop an appropriate local planning policy for inclusion in the Plan.
Q9. Do you have any comments to make on the proposed policy approach to Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground?
Leicester Airport, Stoughton
142. Leicester Airport is an aerodrome near Stoughton village. The Aerodrome has a licence that permits flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. Leicestershire Aero Club operates Leicester Airport and provides facilities for the storage of aircraft. At the entrance to the airport is a floodlit 850m circuit outdoor karting facility.
143. It is proposed that the new Local Plan will contain a new site allocation policy to manage positively future development at Leicester Airport and protect local communities from adverse noise, light pollution and traffic generation. There are no development or policy options at this stage but as part of the ongoing preparation of the Local Plan for the District, officers of the Council will work with the site owner and representatives of the local community to develop an appropriate local planning policy for inclusion in the Plan.
Q10. Do you have any comments to make on the proposed policy approach to Leicester Airport?