Last week Hickman & Smith Architects and the Leicestershire and Rutland Society of Architects had a great opportunity to discuss the emerging Local Plan for Leicester directly with Grant Butterworth, the Head of Planning for Leicester City Council. The occasion offered a fantastic opportunity for an open debate about the future of our city, the potential areas for growth, and how this should be implemented in the development proposals within the Local Plan.
Adam Smith of Hickman & Smith discusses the plan.
I think it’s important that everyone in Leicester knows how they can make their voices heard on the future development of our city. In this blog I hope to explain what the Local Plan is, and what it aims to achieve in a little more detail, and why it is important for you to get involved and have you say on the way it is developed.
Leicester’s Local Plan will set out the vision for the future sustainable development of the city by identifying areas where development will be supported within the city and seeking to encourage high quality design and development through planning policy.
According to Brundtland Commission, sustainable development is defined as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
The overall aim of the Local Plan is to encourage positive investment through development and supporting infrastructure that will satisfy Leicester’s needs for housing, employment, retail and leisure over the next 15 years. Importantly, the Local Plan will seek to deliver this growth in a way which will benefit the urban environment of Leicester, by encouraging good design through planning policy and reinforcing the individual character areas within Leicester to ensure that places retain the historic and socially important features that make them distinctly recognisable and enjoyable.
The Local Plan must be developed so that the needs and desires of local communities are, recognised, planned for and delivered. Therefore, it is important that you have your say on the current consultation stage and options to ensure the Local Plan can be developed to respond to the social, economic and environmental priorities in your local area, be it housing, employment, schools, shops, community facilities, the environment, green spaces.
Housing need within the city has led to a target figure for the council to deliver 34,000 new homes by 2031 - this equates to at 1,700 homes per year. The Local Plan investigates all public open spaces as well as brownfield sites and allows you to have your say on where you feel future housing and employment needs could be accommodated and which areas you feel should be safeguarded. The council are also seeking views on transport and infrastructure and have identified opportunities to improve highways and public transport systems, and pedestrian and cycle routes. It is important that you take this chance to identify the issues that are important to you and to comment on areas where you would like to see development/improvement.
The Local Plan also outlines new proposals to inform future planning policy across a range of planning matters. The aim is to ensure planning policy supports well designed and delivered projects which suit their local environment and needs and deliver the best design and enhance the city’s infrastructure.
As architects (and locals!), naturally we are always keen to pursue high quality design for buildings, spaces and layouts. It’s important that we can feel proud of our city, and that the spaces we inhabit engender a sense of belonging and community.
Public consultation closes soon! It is open until the end of October 2017, with the draft Local Plan due for release in Spring 2018.