Pennbury “Eco Town” Shortlisted

Pennbury made the shortlist.

I’m trying out a few positives here as I know I’ve been negative about Pennbury generally.

Yes – I am in favour of building eco-homes.  Preferably on brownfield sites and recycling existing empty buildings where possible.

Yes – I am in favour of the principles behind eco-towns.

Yes – I am in favour of trying to meet the housing shortage.  And actually housing the homeless and vulnerably housed.

Yes – I know houses need to be affordable.  I can’t afford to buy a house in the small town I grew up in.

Yes – I am in favour of developments that include businesses and shops so residents don’t have to get in the car to buy a newspaper. 

Yes – I am in favour of developments that include public transport and maybe some disincentives against car use.  But restricting households to one car and limiting parking places outside shops isn’t practical, isn’t policeable and won’t work.  A household with a company car will always have a second car ‘in case’.  People will park on pavements if they can’t park on the road.

Yes – I am in favour of developments which include schools.  Even more so if public transport timetables, school opening and closing hours and job start and finish times can be co-ordinated so parents don’t have to resort to car use on the school run.  Know anywhere where this actually happens?

The Co-operative Group so far have confirmed:-

  1. 1 in 3 homes in Pennbury will be cheap enough for first time buyers or renters.
  2. Every child living in Pennbury will go to primary and secondary schools on-site.
  3. Energy will be sent to Pennbury via an existing windfarm and there will other energy projects on-site
  4. A public transport system will be developed in the town which could include a fast link via Gartree road.
  5. Pennbury would not affect the regeneration of Leicester City.

The problem with point 1 is that affordability isn’t just an issue for first time buyers or renters and if affordability is done via shared ownership, there are going to be problems when a householder with shared ownership wants to sell.  In any case who wants to live in a “cheap” house?

I take it that point 2 means the Co-operative Group will actually build the required number of schools and plan to expand them as necessary having accurately forecast the number of children living in Pennbury and the future birth rate.

I’ve already pointed out that Gartree Road won’t take the traffic.  The Co-operative Group may create a “fast link” from Pennbury to Gartree Road but those cars will be joining gridlock.

As regards point 5, does the Co-operative Group seriously believe that building 15,000 homes, community facilities and businesses will not affect the regeneration in Leicester City?  Regeneration which includes a major expansion to the main shopping mall, Highcross, a new cultural quarter, including Curve and other pipeline developments.  How will it guarantee that Pennbury won’t attract employers, businesses, shops that would otherwise be drawn to the city centre?  How will the Co-operative Group answer these two quotes, first from John Mugglestone and second from Roger Blackmore, councillors on the City Council:-

I think it’s a massive threat to the city of Leicester and so far we’ve had not consultation.  I think it’s the biggest threat to the city centre’s development since Junction 21.

The proposal, if it is allowed to go ahead, could have very severe consequences for Leicester City.

The next three months are a public consultation period.  We’re still waiting for the Co-operative Group to publish and consult on their plans for Pennbury.

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