A major consultation is underway to shape the future of Leicester and Leicestershire to 2050.
People are being asked to have their say on a plan setting out how Leicester and Leicestershire will grow in the future.
A draft Strategic Growth Plan is being developed by a partnership formed by Leicester City and Leicestershire County councils, the seven local borough and district authorities and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP).
It puts forward proposals for the new housing and transport improvements that would be needed to attract jobs and investment to Leicester and Leicestershire from now until 2050.
The final version of the plan will provide strategic direction and help shape the Local Plans that the city, borough and district councils are preparing or reviewing.
It will also be used to support bids for Government funding to deliver the infrastructure needed to support growth.
Now, people are invited to comment on the plan by taking part in a county-wide consultation, which runs from 11 January until 5 April 2018.
The plan estimates that Leicester and Leicestershire needs 96,580 new homes and 367-423 hectares of employment land from 2011-2031. Some of these homes have already been built or have planning permission.
Beyond 2031, the plan identifies the need for a further 90,500 dwellings and additional employment land, which is why further land needs to be unlocked. Local Plans will deal with the detailed allocation of which sites will be brought forward.
Draft proposals put forward in the Strategic Growth Plan include major infrastructure improvements on which new growth is dependent. These include a new link road – the A46 Expressway – to the south and east of Leicester, running from the M69 and the M1 to the A46 north of the city.
The A5 and A42 would also be upgraded to expressway status, supporting growth in these areas. Rail improvements are also proposed.
These road and rail improvements would require significant Government investment and would relieve congestion pressures along the M1 and more widely across the Midlands. It would also potentially unlock land for the required housing and employment.
Key areas for potential growth are the city of Leicester and the corridor of land around the proposed new road. Secondary areas for growth are identified in the north and the south of the county – there would be a ‘northern gateway’ close to East Midlands Airport, and a ‘southern gateway’, close to Magna Park.
Growth is also proposed for Melton and Lutterworth, where it would support transport improvements and relieve congestion in the towns. New housing would be built closer to where people work, to minimise congestion from commuters.
The consultation also sets out an extensive new evidence base here which includes a number of reports.
The city has already grown through its boundary, and the council is planning in its local plan to go as far as it can to balance the predicted housing, employment and open space demands for a sustainable future for the city which allows growth but protects the environmental capacity of Leicester.
It has however already formally declared that it will not be able to accommodate its future growth needs without assistance from partner authorities.
Whilst the SGP involves difficult and controversial matters, it is in the interests of all parties to have a robust and forward looking plan which will set a strategic framework for the development of future local plans. The Plan will allow partners to take back control and position the authorities to secure the necessary infrastructure funding to support this critical growth agenda.