The results of the consultation on St George’s Barracks development have now been published by Rutland County Council and can be found at:
I am delighted to see that North Luffenham heads the list of number of responses received, indeed almost a third of all households in the village responded, making up 21.4% of all responses. In addition, the Parish Council supported by the St George’s Barracks Working Group submitted a very detailed response that has already been published but is attached for ease of reference.
Following the meeting held with our MP Sir Alan Duncan MP, on 22nd June, an Advisory Group has been formed whose purpose is to “be the voice of the community during the planning and development stage of the Project. To bring together MOD, Rutland County Council, the Developer and interested parties from the wider community of Rutland to identify issues and concerns during the Planning and Development process and to identify the appropriate and cost effective solutions.” The first meeting of the Group was held earlier this week and I was encouraged by the willingness of the County Council to engage with us as key stakeholders. I attach a copy of the Action Points arising from this first meeting. It is intended that the Advisory Group will meet every 4 weeks and may form working groups to report on individual key issues such as the environment. It has been agreed that the scale of the development and its phasing, together with infrastructure and style are the burning issues of the moment.
Officers Mess Development
A further group has been formed to consider the Officers’ Mess development, which we are determined should not be considered as a stand-alone development. This group will meet for the first time in the near future.
Co-operation with Edith Weston Parish Council
We have formed a strong working relationship with EWPC and the Chairs of the respective PCs meet regularly. We are now extending this link to include Manton, Ketton, Empingham, and South Luffenham Parish Councils. This continual liaison ensures that we are in a position to understand local concerns and to speak with one voice.
Th excellent cooperation with Visit to Whitehill and Bordon
On 17th July, at the invitation of the Leader of Whitehill and Bordon Town Council, Norman Milne (Chair Edith Weston Parish Council) and I visited Bordon to establish how that development had progressed and some of the lesson learnt along the way. Bordon is important because it is a similar sized development on a similar sized former Army Camp. Important too is the fact that the Consultants engaged by the County Council to prepare the St George’s Masterplan are the same organization responsible for the Masterplanning of the Bordon Development. I attach a copy of the report that I wrote following that visit. The points raised in the Executive Summary of that report are:
• The scope of the 2 x projects is remarkably similar, though Bordon can draw upon significantly more infrastructure and heritage buildings than may be available in St George’s Barracks (SGB).
• The scale of the Bordon site has reduced significantly over time; the MoD threat to do their own thing was deployed by the District Council but never materialized. MoD did not significantly influence the final number of properties to be built. Final house numbers were driven in part by a report written by Natural England.
• Effective and meaningful engagement between District Council and Town Council was considered essential. To achieve that a pro-active stance needed to be taken by the Town Council in making alternative positive proposals. Localism was an important influencing tool, which required continual and detailed engagement with the existing community.
• Continuity and strong leadership within the Parish Councils were considered essential. The Councils should put additional effort and resources into understanding the requirements for Transport, Health, Jobs, Education, Leisure and Training.
• Localism is considered an essential tool with input from all key groups. The Advisory Board might propose setting up oversight boards to consider the delivery of the promise in all key areas.
• The Council should not underestimate the resources and time needed to manage a project of this size and to ensure accountability from the county Council. Once underway the project will proceed very quickly with little opportunity for review. It is essential therefore that the Masterplan is correct and has the support of all players.
• Once appointed the Parish Councils need to develop close links and oversight of the work being undertaken by developers and be able to identify problems and community reaction quickly.
• Developer’s Insight. This paragraph is worth reading in detail. Many of the issues/concerns raised to date with our development have materialized in Bordon. The availability of appropriately trained house-building staff may drive the overall rate of development. The majority of new buyers had to commute further to work – house sales were driven by house costs in more affluent towns/cities.
• The provision of on site town sized facilities to meet the needs of the new town is a great attraction to buyers. The development needs to include a wide range of national brand shops and a range of catering outlets. A pub, an ‘Express’ store and a Pizza Hut will not meet the aspiration of buyers. A wide range of sports facilities, leisure facilities, and environmental/recreational opportunities are vital.
• The on-going running costs for many of the proposed facilities, including grass cutting and leisure area management are likely to be devolved. This will result in a substantial overhead for Parish Councils.
The Parish Council’s Working Group on the development of St George’s Barracks continues to meet regularly to advise the Parish Council and provide specialist insight and research. The Group is currently made up of:
Cllr Paul Cummings – Chair
Tim Collins – Environmental issues
Jason Allen – Business / Tourism
Mike Wyatt – Publicity / Press
Hugo & Jo Spiegl – Business, Education and Local Insight
Trevor Gibson – Local Authority Governance
Tony Smith – Communications
Cllr Pete Burrows – IT
Cllr Tim Smith – Planning
We lack expertise in planning law and planning process, if you know of anyone that would wish to join the group do please give me a call. The Group is not a protest group and seeks to influence the County Council to ensure that the proposed development is appropriate, well planned and executed and above all is “Right for Rutland’.
A revised local planning document will shortly be launched by RCC. This will attempt to justify the requirement for a significant build on the airfield – please watch this space for further details.