This is an update on the proposed development for the benefit of readers who were unable to attend the public exhibitions held by the Parish Council and the developers. At the time I am writing this, early May, the plan is still an ‘outline proposal’ for consideration by Charnwood Borough Council. By the end of May, a decision will probably have been made such that the developers (David Wilson Homes and Miller Homes) will move quickly to submit a ‘detailed proposal’ for the site which takes into account comments made to the ‘outline proposal’. After that, there will be a further period of three months for final consideration of the ‘detailed proposal’. Building will probably start early in 2005. They will start building at the Nottingham Rd end and develop it in batches of 30 houses selling them as they go over a period of a year or so.
My understanding is that Willow Way will go ahead go ahead in one form or other. It is the details that remain to be finalised.
These are the features that particularly struck me as important. There are lots of other things that could be commented on but there is no space to do so in this article. I strongly recommend you to attend the next round of public exhibitions and make your own mind up. Bear in mind that some things may be changed in the ‘detailed proposal’ yet to be submitted. The points I describe are derived from my reading of the plans, comments made by the Parish Council and by the Charnwood planning staff. I am not an expert so check for yourself.
* The plan is to build 360 homes, of various sizes, which will bring in about 1000 more people to the village.
* The development is in an arc filling the North West corner of the village between Nottingham Rd and Cotes Rd (see the picture).
* An inner arc of houses and ‘village streets’ will be surrounded by an outer arc of green belt (open grass and playing fields). The outer boundary will be marked by a 2 metre high mound densely planted with trees and shrubs along its entire length. Visually, this will give a ’soft edge’ to the village separating it from the surrounding fields. In addition, most of the mature trees on the site will be kept and more will be planted between the houses. The overall effect, in time, should be quite green and wooded.
* Barrow’s “Village Design Statement” – which is available from the Parish Council office if you don’t have one – urges developers to use local styles, materials and layouts in new building in order to be sympathetic to and retain the character of the existing village streets (particularly those at the old centre of the village). The developers have accepted this idea and have said that they will build in a variety of architectural styles consistent with existing houses (details to be decided), with an irregular grid of interconnected streets opening-out, occasionally, into green spaces with a new network of footpaths (‘jitties’) and cycle ways.
* A novel feature of the proposal is to create a ‘square’ within Willow Way which will have the feel of a market place (although whether or not shops move there remains to be seen). What is being discussed is the possibility of creating an additional Health Centre to serve the village. This could be in The Square.
* The development will include 54 so-called ‘affordable dwellings’ (2/3 bedroom homes/flats for rent or shared ownership).
* Strancliffe Lane, the bridleway, will remain and will not be used for traffic. Even the houses to be built alongside the lane will not have vehicular access.
* In what seems to be a major change from earlier suggestions, there will not be a main perimeter road – an extension of Fishpool Way - linking the roundabout on Nottingham Rd to the top of Catsick Hill on Cotes Rd. Instead, there will be a much smaller road designed as a ‘village street’ which will meander through the houses and have traffic calming humps and bends to slow the traffic. The developers make a virtue of this saying that it will make for safer traffic flows and will not separate the houses from the green play areas. This may or may not be revised in the detailed proposal. Nevertheless, whichever solution is decided upon, the development will only have these two entrances and exits from Nottingham Rd and Cotes Rd. Traffic will not be able to pass through existing estates (eg the ‘Lakes’) to get to Willow Way. Pedestrians and cyclists will be able to do so. A few houses fronting onto Cotes Rd may be allowed direct access but this is being challenged by the Parish Council at the time of writing.
* A new, extended bus route and services has been agreed passing through the new estate.
* In addition, the developers have agreed to make financial contributions to reduce the negative impact of the expansion in the village and beyond. These include: traffic calming on Nottingham Rd and Cotes Rd to reduce speeds; improvements to the junctions at Cotes Mill (the Parish Council has asked for improvements at the Grove Lane/Sileby Rd junction also); contributions to the schools faced with extra pupils; childrens’ play equipment in the estate; and new cycle lanes at the Soar bridge.