Fears for countryside and services as Leicester’s need for new homes spills over into wider county
Leicestershire residents have expressed fears for the future of their green spaces and services after it emerged new homes due to be built in the city would be accommodated in the county because of a lack of suitable land. In a joint statement last week, the city, county, districts and borough said they were working together to find space for 18,700 homes which cannot fit in the city.
Leicester City Council said it had been struggling to meet its housing target for the period up to 2036 even before the Government increased its required provision by 35 per cent in 2020. The councils across the county now have a legal obligation to step up and take on some of the shortfall.
A proposal is currently being looked at individually by each borough and district authority showed that for some councils the number of homes they would need to deliver by 2036 would double once the city’s share was redistributed. Blaby, which is set to take the biggest proportion of the city’s unmet need, would need to build 10,992 new homes in the 16-year period – over twice as many as it’s own individual target.
Readers have raised concerns over the county taking on some of Leicester’s target. One said: “That’s all well and good, people need a roof over their head, but the services in the suburbs are stretched to the limit already.
“They shouldn’t grant planning permission for any development unless they include GP surgeries and schools or at least expand the services that are already in place.” A second added: “So, don’t build them in the city where the needs exist – build in the countryside spoiling our lovely landscapes, where the infrastructure doesn’t exist, and by so doing increase the carbon footprint with the increase in commuters.”
Other readers suggested there are still brownfield – previously developed – sites in the city which could be used to meet the targets. “What about all the brown field sites in the city, Corah’s, the old Vulcan works, why can’t they be redeveloped into affordable housing sites?” asked one commenter.
Another referenced reactions to the recent news that the old Corah factory site in the city centre could be demolished to make way for flats. “Yet any mention of turning empty disused factories in to flats get met with horror as well,” they said.
Suggestions were also made that we should be building up to make the most of the small parcels of land that are available in the city: “No end of land has been cleared in the city for housing, yet right on the edge of town they’re throwing up rubbish two-bed, two-storey town houses. Why are we not building 20 or 30-storey buildings in prime locations around the city centre?
“This is what modern city centres should be, three-bed semis with a garden is not what is needed in these areas. If people want [houses] then you have to live further out.
“Personally I would hate to live in a flat, but for single people, couples, young professionals it might be an ideal way of living.” However, one reader did say the idea made sense to them: “Good, the city is densely populated so it makes sense.”