We are now midway through February and lots is happening in the background, in the fight to remove Lodge Farm from the Local Plan. We also need your help to keep moving us forward:

1. Meeting with individual councillors:
SALFV Committee member have been and will continue to meet with individual councillors and political groups within Rugby Borough Council to present the key reasons why Lodge Farm is unsustainable and undeliverable. We have thus far met with more than half the councillors and the meetings continue.

2. The Local Plan timeline has been delayed (again):
In yet another sign the Local Plan is encountering "technical difficulties" the vote on the local plan has moved from March to May. It appears that Warwickshire County Council will be unable to update it's initially half baked traffic assessment in time to support the initial vote. More can be read here: https://www.rugby.gov.uk/news/article/1320/local_plan_timetable_revised

3. Conservative Majority is No More:
Following a number of councillor resignations the Conservative group no longer holds a majority in the Council chamber. Watch this space!

4. SALFV is meeting with Council Leader (again):
In our continuing lobbying against the Lodge Farm proposal SALFV is meeting this week with Cllr. Michael Stokes, who is the leader of the council. We look forward to presenting Cllr. Stokes with the key reasons and updates as to why Lodge Farm continues to be a terrible idea. 

5. Finance Update:
As the first stage of the campaign concludes here are the headline financial figures:

  • Total campaign expenditure to date: £14,105
    • Planning consultancy: £5,713
    • Transport consultancy: £5,458
    • Other: (signs, website, flyers, printing) £2,934

Whilst we are still cash positive, your support and help cannot be overstated. This was the inexpensive stage of the fight. 

  • Estimated costs for next stages:
    • Representation at Independent Examination (June 2017): (Planning consultant, transport consultant, barrister) £10,000 - £15,000
    • Judicial Review of RBC decision to include Lodge Farm despite public opposition: £30,000

Whilst we are not at these stages yet - we need to have the cash and pledges available to enable us to fight this campaign, and to take every step possible to stop Lodge Farm, and protect Leam Valley.

We wish to thank all our contributors and donors, but we unfortunately the fight is not over so we need your help again. Please donate, either by cheque or online at: https://www.gofundme.com/salfv
Alternatively you can email us with your pledge which we will keep confidential until such time as it is required to pay for a specific invoice. (barrister, solicitor, planing consultant)

6. In the News:
The High Court has handed down recently a very interesting decision in the case of Regina (on the application of East Bergholt Parish Council) v (1) Babergh District Council, (2) Paul Bernard Aggett, (3) Sarah Jane Aggett.

In this case, the Parish Council filed a petition to the High Court to judicially review the planning decision of the Babergh District Council for additional homes in the Parish of East Bergholt.

“The judge decided that Babergh District Council had made a number of material legal errors, including misrepresenting to councillors what “local housing needs” means in the context of the local plan.

“Councillors had been told that they needed to take into account the needs of the district as a whole, when in fact they had to take into account only the needs of the core village and its immediate environs"

Whilst the case is not exactly the same as our situation (planning application as opposed to local plan) the judge's interpretation of the law fundamentally works in our favour: the Borough Council must take into account the views and needs of the Parish, which supersede the needs of the Borough.

More can be read here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-38264017

7. What can you do?

  • WRITE TO ALL THE COUNCILLORS: If you have not already done so, send your objection directly to the councillors. Alternatively use one of our pre-made letters, or write a brand new letter letting every RBC councillor know how you feel. Remember - councillors do not necessarily get to see or read our objections, they may only see a summary. Every councillor's email address can be found here, in an easy to copy and use format: http://www.salfv.org/councillors-email-addresses
  • DONATE: The case of East Bergholt illustrates how a small community village stopped the Borough Council from building in their borough through Judicial Review. If we are forced to take this route, we need to be able to finance it. https://www.gofundme.com/salfv

A recent study published in The Lancet and also covered in the Daily Telegraph indicates that air pollution is a significant factor in the onset of dementia:

"Increasing population growth and urbanisation has placed many people close to heavy traffic, and with widespread exposure to traffic and growing rates of dementia, even a modest effect from near-road exposure could pose a large public health burden."

Dementia afflicts nearly 1 million people in the UK and is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

If you are objecting against Lodge Farm Village (DS10) in the second Consultation or airing your views on the same to Rugby Borough Councillors, please consider raising the findings of this study in the context of the additional traffic through Dunchurch that can be reasonably expected should Lodge Farm be developed. As you may already be aware, the Dunchurch Crossroads is already a designated Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) due to excessively high levels of pollution.

An extract from David Thompson's (SALFV Chairman) recent letter of 21 December 2016 to all Rugby Borough Councillors, Jeremy Wright, Mark Pawsey and Chris Heaton-Harris:

We are now halfway through the Second Consultation Period on the Draft Local Plan and I thought it was an appropriate moment to stop and consider how we have reached this impasse.

In essence, this Second Consultation is a response of Rugby Borough Council to the unprecedented level of objections to the inclusion of the Lodge Farm Village proposal in the Draft Local Plan. The Local Plan Preferred Options document (December 2015) received a total response of 280 comments. However, the Draft Local Plan (September 2016) received over 2000 comments during the first consultation. A significant majority of these comments related to the inclusion of the Lodge Farm Village proposal and were contributed not just from the people resident in the locality of Lodge Farm but from residents throughout the Borough and further afield. It is evident, therefore, that it is disagreement about the changes between the Preferred Options document and the Draft Local Plan that has brought about a Second Consultation.

The background and reasons for disagreement may be summarised as follows:-

  • As part of the Memorandum of Understanding, entered into by neighbouring authorities in Coventry and Warwickshire in September 2015, Rugby Borough agreed to provide for an additional 2800 homes in the Borough to meet Coventry’s unmet housing need.
  • In its Preferred Options document, Rugby Borough Council agreed to allocate land at Walsgrave Hill Farm specifically to meet a significant part of this need. This document stated

    In consideration of the significant contribution other areas of the borough will be making to meeting Rugby’s housing need and that the additional need is coming from Coventry, delivery on the edge of Coventry is a logical approach

    Furthermore, the document continues

    …the promotion of sustainable patterns of development that meet identified housing needs is an exceptional circumstance that can justify Green Belt release. In this specific location, the advantages of locating development that meet the unmet housing needs of the Coventry and Warwickshire housing market area, Coventry City specifically, are a further sufficiently exceptional circumstance to justify Green Belt release within Rugby Borough

  • In March 2016, in response to a “call for land”, the Lodge Farm site was submitted for consideration. In the subsequent Draft Local Plan, the Walsgrave Hill Farm site was excluded and the Lodge Farm site was included. The reasons for the exclusion of Walsgave Hill Farm, apart from the opportunistic volunteering of the Lodge Farm site, were identified in the Housing Background Paper (September 2015) as
    • doubts about the deliverability of the essential road improvements.
    • concerns about local ecology (SSSI) and heritage (Coombe Abbey).
    • the requirement of the site promoters to include employment land.
    • meeting the exceptional circumstances for Green Belt release.
    It is believed that these concerns have been adequately addressed in the submissions and representations of Oxalis Planning on behalf of the promoters, Roxhill. It should also be noted that the sustainability assessment of the Walsgrave Hill Farm site (S14075) shows it to be more sustainable than in the original assessment of the Lodge Farm site (S16046). Hence, the criterion provided for removal of a site from the Green Belt (at Paragraph 84 of the NPPF) is met.
  • SALFV believes that the Draft Local Plan does not provide adequately for the provision of the unmet housing needs of Coventry. This totals 2800 houses and is substantially more than the number of houses scheduled for construction in the Draft Local Plan in the north-west area of the borough. The NPPF supports development which “facilitates the use of sustainable modes of transport” and “where the need to travel will be minimised”. The proposed sites in the Draft Local Plan ostensibly fail these tests in respect of Coventry’s needs - being more than 5 miles from the City boundary (A46) as the crow flies and considerably further by road.
  • With regard specifically to Lodge Farm Village, SALFV believes that the site is neither sustainable nor deliverable. In relation to sustainability, the isolated and relatively remote location of the site is of paramount importance. It is remote from sites of employment, secondary schools, retail outlets and leisure facilities. Ownership of private vehicles would be essential as current public transport provision is minimal and an additional 1500 homes in the neighbourhood would fall far short of justifying significantly increased public transport. SALFV has made formal representations identifying how Lodge Farm Village fails to meet all 18 of Rugby’s sustainability objectives.
  • With regard to deliverability, transport is the most basic aspect. There has been no relevant and specific transport assessment identifying the implications on traffic of the Lodge Farm Proposal. With no specific sites of employment for residents obvious, it must be assumed that residents would work at the same locations as the current residents of the surrounding villages. Effectively, this means that residents working in Rugby, Coventry and Daventry would use the A45; residents working at Southam, JLR (Gaydon) and DIRFT would use the country lanes. The problems of the A45 as a High Risk Crash Route and the pollution problems in Dunchurch are widely recognised. Major improvements to the A45 are required and the provision of the proposed Spine Road will only make a minimal contribution to alleviating the traffic problems caused by the Lodge Farm proposal. Just as important are the widening and upgrading of the country lanes in Warwickshire and Northamptonshire. Such improvements will change the environment of the surrounding villages and, of course, will require massive investment.
  • Apart from the road network, there is a total lack of infrastructure at the site. The proposal indicates the provision of a Primary School and a Medical facility (although these aspects are dependent on other agencies/organisations contributing). However, this is only the start. Additional investment will be required to provide water and electricity to the site, sewage facilities, flood protection measures (to alleviate the surface water run-off into the Rainsbrook) etc.
  • The funding and provision of the improvements to roads and other infrastructure will need to take place prior to the construction of any houses. The Spine Road – regarded as being helpful to and essential for the Lodge Farm Village proposal in the Draft local Plan – is not scheduled for completion until 2025/2026 and yet the first houses at Lodge Farm are scheduled for completion in 2020. It is clear that the deliverability of the Lodge Farm proposal has not been properly thought through. What is clear is that the cost of providing the necessary infrastructure will be very high and this will have a significant effect upon the ability of the site to provide Affordable Housing. This point has been conceded by the Head of Growth and Investment of Rugby Borough Council.
  • In conclusion, SALFV continues to believe that Lodge Farm Village is neither sustainable nor deliverable. This belief has been reinforced by all the professional consultants and advisers with whom the Committee has discussed the proposal. They regard the proposal as being opportunistic, ill-conceived and wholly unrealistic and that the Sustainability Assessment has not been prepared on the basis of an objective assessment of the evidence.

A hardy group of Stand Against Lodge Farm Village campaigners recently braved the blustery December weather and made their way to the trig point (just outside the village of Barby) that overlooks the Leam Valley, including the site of the proposed Lodge Farm Village development.

At the trig point, overlooking the Leam Valley

The Leam Valley will be irrevocably spoilt if the unsustainable, undeliverable and unsupported Lodge Farm Village development goes ahead.

As we move towards the end of the second Consultation period offered by Rugby Borough Council on the Draft Local Plan, it is worthwhile re-doubling and re-focusing all of our efforts to oppose Lodge Farm Village (DS10).

You can continue to oppose Lodge Farm Village in a number of ways:

  • E-mail ALL Rugby Borough Councillors to express your opposition to the inclusion of Lodge Farm Village in the Draft Local Plan. The Councillors will not see the thousands of individual objections that have already been filed, so it is very worthwhile to make your views to our elected representatives known. You can find a list of e-mail addresses for all Councillors here and you may find this recent letter from David Thompson (SALFV Chairman) to the Councillors a useful reference on many of the key objections to Lodge Farm Village.
  • File additional objections to the inclusion of Lodge Farm Village (DS10) in the Draft Local Plan. Our objection guide can be found here and can be used to object on aspects of DS10 that you may not have had the chance to cover in the first Consultation.
  • Support the campaign financially. Beyond the second Consultation, significant funding is required to cover the planning consultants and lawyers who will be needed for SALFV to maintain effective opposition to Lodge Farm Village. Click here to donate to the campaign.

At the trig point, overlooking the Leam Valley
At the trig point, overlooking the Leam Valley

Click HERE to watch our light-hearted festive plea to Councillors Stokes, Timms, Butlin and Mr Back (Head of Growth and Investment) at Rugby Borough Council.

Set to the tune of Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby”, we (again) ask the Councillors and Mr Back to take Lodge Farm (DS10) out of the Draft Local Plan for Rugby Borough. Make you turn your speakers/sound up for maximum enjoyment!