Pennbury, Leicestershire

Pennbury, Leicestershire

Pennbury is the working name given to a proposed eco-town of 15,000 to 20,000 new homes intended to be built on Leicester Airport near Stoughton. The location is between the existing villages of Oadby, Great Glen and Houghton on the Hill in the English county of Leicestershire. The eco-town would lie on the south-eastern outskirts of the city of Leicester (4 miles from the centre) and west of the town of Market Harborough. The site is in the Harborough district council area and the Harborough parliamentary constituency where the MP is Edward Garnier.

The proposal has been submitted by the Co-operative Group and English Partnerships and has aroused local opposition on many grounds including destruction of the countryside and the traffic it will generate. The southern and eastern parts of Leicester already suffer from traffic congestion as there is no proper southern nor eastern bypass. The site is linked to the city by the Roman Gartree Road. The break in the nominated Ring Road occurs at the junction of Goodwood Road and Spencefield Lane. From this point the extrapolated line of the major road crosses into farmland, across Stoughton Lane and points across the centre of the eco-town site towards the new oversized roundabout at the end of the Great Glen bypass in Oadby. No denial has been forthcoming from Co-operative Group that this potentially heavily-loaded and entirely new route into Leicester is a coincidence.

The eco-town site is located well away from any of the four railway lines into Leicester. Historically there were stations on the Midland Railway line at Great Glen and Kibworth Beauchamp. The sites of these abandoned stations are further from the site of the town than their names imply, because the railway line runs beyond the villages on this stretch and any Park and Ride service would need to pass through one or other of the villages to reach a station were either of them to be re-opened.

This is not the first time that Co-operative Group has attempted to develop Leicester Airport. This once abandoned Second World War Aerodrome (it was previously known as RAF Leicester East, then Stoughton Aerodrome) is currently leased to Leicestershire Aero Club, but the farmland between the runways has been allowed to run down for more than 20 years while the owners tried repeatedly to find a way to re-develop it. There was, in the late 1980s, a proposal for Stretton Magna which was abandoned in 1991 under heavy local opposition from a group with over 3,000 members calling itself CASM (Campaign Against Stretton Magna). More recently an alternative proposal was made, at a meeting in June 2006 with Harborough District Council, for a so called "Sustainable Urban Extension"; this was then dropped in favour of the eco-town scheme.

Great Stretton is a deserted village of which little remains apart from the church which is in the middle of a field. No mention has been made by the developers of the need to protect this archaeological site.

The Campaign Against the Stoughton Co-op Eco Town (CASCET) was formed in December 2007 following the publication of an e-petition by Dr Kevin Feltham, one of the local county councillors for the area under threat Gartree Division. He was subsequently elected chairman of CASCET, with Simon Galton, County Councillor for Launde Division, as vice-chairman. This campaign group proceeded to hold protest demonstrations outside local Midlands Co-op stores to raise awareness of their concerns. Public meetings were held in Billesdon, Great Glen, Oadby and Market Harborough to packed halls. The group is the major stakeholder representing parishes which would be affected by the eco-town proposals. The e-petition and paper petition have together received 14,000 signatures by the end of June 2008.

On 29 January 2008 Edward Garnier spoke to the adjournment in parliament and was supported by other local MPs from both sides of the house in expression of their concerns about the secrecy evident in the process of shortlisting.

On 3 April, 2008, it was announced that the Pennbury proposal was one of fifteen sites shortlisted by Communities and Local Government (CLG) for the next phase of public consultations.

CLG's consultation paper on the shortlisted sites reports that the site would "create a largely freestanding community, but linked to Leicester" and accommodate 12,000 to 15,000 homes in a development of 750 hectares.

On 22nd April, 2008 the Co-op opened an information and comment site for the proposal, which states on the Transport page that "The recent 6C's congestion study has shown that congestion in the south east quadrant of Leicester, adjacent to where the eco-town is to be located, is no worse than congestion elsewhere around Leicester city. However, there will be a need to increase the capacity of the network to facilitate journeys to and from the eco-town, particularly by public transport. The transport strategy for the eco-town will ensure that the necessary investment is made and that the infrastructure is designed to ease the journeys in this quadrant and even increase the level of sustainable travel by those living outside the town itself." The downloadable map that is referenced and the inset map in the report both show the break in the Ring Road in the quadrant rather than comparable figures as suggested above.


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