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 or will be 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.
Councillor Terry Richardson, Leader of Blaby District Council, said: “Over the last few years we have been working with partners to produce this Strategic Growth Plan, with the aim of producing a strong framework to determine how Blaby and the wider area will meet its housing and employment needs over the next three decades.
“Too often growth has not been supported by the necessary infrastructure and the plan seeks to address this point and thereby provide for sustainable development.
“As well as the A46 expressway, the proposed Southern Gateway in the district will open up opportunities to develop sustainable housing, employment and infrastructure. This will ensure that we can protect the character of our existing villages and settlements.”
Councillor Sheila Scott, Portfolio Holder for Planning, Partnerships and Economic Development, said: “We have worked with our partners to produce the Strategic Growth Plan and are now asking residents and businesses for their views.
“Through this plan we can ensure that growth can be delivered at the right time, in the right places, with the essential infrastructure that it needs. The Strategic Growth Plan will inform future Local Plans that the Council will produce and so it is important that the public has their say now.
“There are some exciting opportunities for the District: the proposed A46 expressway will reduce congestion on main routes through the District and attract investment that will continue to make Blaby an excellent area to live and work in.
“This is a long-term plan which demonstrates that the City and County are proactively working together to plan on how to accommodate growth and attract inward investment to the area in the future.”
To take part in the consultation, please see the website llstrategicgrowthplan.org.uk or contact any of the local authorities or the LLEP. Local consultation events are also being planned. Details will be on the website.