Further details emerge about Woolfox homes proposal in Rutland
Proposals for a 7,500 garden community at Woolfox are ‘not going away’, according to a letter sent on behalf of the owners of the site.
As reported in the Mercury in November, a brochure outlined plans for a garden community for ‘in excess of 10,000 homes on the site, close to the A1 - between Empingham and Greetham.
But this has been reduced to 7,500 in a letter sent to all Rutland county councillors and seen by this newspaper.
The letter, from Andrew Granger Estate Agents and Chartered Surveyors on behalf of the Hill family who own the former RAF base, also outlines plans for 21 hectares of employment land and new schools, including a primary and secondary along with a sixth form.
There are also proposals for further education and a university ‘presence’ with one university indicating an ‘in-principle interest’.
The letter states the proposals to Rutland County Council are ‘real’ and ‘not a red herring or something that can be ignored or brushed under the carpet’.
It continues: “It [Woolfox] is a seriously opportunity to deliver homes over a number of decades; it is deliverable with a clear, integrated approach to infrastructure, housing, business investment, employment, recreation and development.
“It is on a once in a lifetime opportunity for the county and the surrounding authorities.
“We will be pushing hard over the coming months to demonstrate that this site is viable and deliverable as we state.”
It calls on Rutland County Council to give it a ‘fair hearing’ and in Andrew Granger and Co’s view, they have made ‘significant steps’ to catch up with St George’s Barracks and are ‘now well placed’ to go ahead of it.
The letter also states that discussions have begun with county council planning officers who have visited the site.
Furthermore, clarity has also been provided that the site is in ‘single-family-ownership’, road access to the site can be achieved ‘without requiring any third-party land acquisition’ and there is ‘no overriding minerals constraint to development’.
This makes it ‘available, achievable and deliverable’, according to the letter.
Should the project be allocated in Rutland County Council’s emerging local plan, review which is the ‘clear intention’ of Andrew Granger and Co, and a planning application submitted, the first phase of the development - around 750 homes - could start in 2023 with completion in late 2023 or early 2024.
The letter also speculates there could be ‘scope’ for both St George’s Barracks and Woolfox in Rutland’s local plan.
Coun Gordon Brown, portfolio holder for planning at Rutland County Council, said:
“Officers from Rutland County Council have met with the agent for the landowner of the Woolfox site, following their submission as part of Rutland’s ongoing Local Plan review.
“Through these discussions, we have made it clear that we need a wide range of detailed evidence reports to be provided regarding the proposed site.
“These include, but are not limited to, a full minerals resource assessment, habitat assessment, traffic assessment, a development masterplan and a full site viability assessment.
“Without this information it will be extremely difficult for the council to consider whether the Woolfox site can be delivered within the plan period and, therefore, whether it should be considered for inclusion in the Local Plan.
“In the case of St George’s, it has taken two years to reach the point where this site can be considered for inclusion in Rutland’s Local Plan and all requisite information and reports have been produced and published.
“To date, detailed reports for Woolfox have not been forthcoming.
“Some clarity has been provided on the ownership of the land, and the agent has confirmed that they have had an initial discussion with Highways England.
“However, as yet, no detailed traffic assessment or highway modelling has been undertaken to consider the capacity of the local and strategic highway network to accommodate the Woolfox proposal.
“There has also been no detail as to the financial viability of the