Thursday, December 7, 2023

Prison planning appeal allowed

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has allowed a planning appeal for a new Category B prison in Leicestershire.

Harborough District Council had refused the application for the 82,555m2 prison.

Despite the planning inspector recommending that the appeal should be dismissed and planning permission refused, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, Michael Gove, has given the proposals the green light.

A document from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities says: “Weighing in favour of the proposal are the need for the prison which carries significant weight, the economic benefits which carry significant weight, the qualitative benefits of the proposal which carry significant weight, and the claimed lack of alternative sites which carries very limited weight.

“The benefit of 26% biodiversity net gain, the dual use of this land as upgraded and improved open space for local residents, and the benefit of charging points for cars collectively carry moderate weight. Weighing against the proposal are the harm to the character and appearance of the area which carries significant weight, the lack of sustainability and accessibility which carries significant weight, and the impact on air quality which carries minimal weight.”

The 1,700-inmate prison, adjacent to the existing HMP Gartree, is expected to create over 750 direct jobs when operational as well as further jobs through the provision of related services.

A spokesperson for Harborough District Council said: “The council acknowledges the decision of the Secretary of State. It is disappointing that Harborough District Council’s locally-taken decision to refuse permission has been overturned by Government allowing the planning appeal. We shall read the decision letter carefully to understand reasons for allowing the appeal, and how impact from the development is to be mitigated locally.”

Cllr Knowles, Leader of Harborough District Council, said: “This is deeply disappointing news. The planning committee refused this. The community have real and justified fears for the infrastructure’s ability to cope. Those who have held the position of Secretary of State throughout this consideration have declined my personal invitations to come here and see just how unsuitable this site is.

“I still maintain my view that this is the wrong place to build this. The government are intent on pushing this through – they will need to provide huge investment into the community and the infrastructure to help offset some of the negative impact on our community. I will be pushing for an early meeting with Neil O’Brien MP to review this and look at options.”

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