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'St George's Barracks development could prevent 30 new homes in every Rutland village'

In a little over a fortnight one of the most controversial development plans since the creation of Rutland Water will be discussed.

A square mile of land, in military use for 80 years, is earmarked for development in Rutland’s draft Local Plan.

Plans to turn over the Ministry of Defence’s St George’s Barracks at North Luffenham to more than 2,000 new homes were thrown into confusion in March when Rutland County Council rejected £29m in Government funds that would have helped to get the ‘garden village’ project moving.

There has been an 'evolving masterplan' in place for the St George's development
There has been an 'evolving masterplan' in place for the St George's development

That rejection has a bearing on the viability of the St George’s site and a special meeting of Rutland County Council will be held to discuss the future, on September 1.

Meanwhile, parish councils have been expressing concern about what will happen if the St George’s Barracks site is not developed.

With pressure to deliver new housing somewhere in the county, if it is not the MoD land that bears the brunt, they fear villages will instead.

A letter from Greetham Parish Council has been circulated to other parishes and to the county council. While it acknowledges ‘change is inevitable’ it advises the changes are ‘controlled to minimise impacts’.

“Either we accept the garden village development, and thus contain the impacts to the area around St George’s Barracks area, or we accept the spread of this housing within the villages around the whole county,” it says, adding that as a previously developed ‘brownfield’ site, the barracks fit better with national and local planning policies.

It says a rejection of the St George’s Barracks as a development site would “serve to invoke the law of unintended consequences”.

These, it says, would include taxpayers footing the bill for consultations in drafting a new Rutland Local Plan and, during the three to five years of plan preparation, “no effective legal direction for planning development”.

The letter adds: “The consequences of this would allow developers, rather than the local community, to determine the scale and nature of housing and industrial developments county-wide.

“To meet Government targets, this could mean at least 30 new houses and associated supporting infrastructure around the 50 villages within the county.”

It also points out the MoD would still need to dispose of the barracks and, in the hands of housing developers, the density of housing could be far higher than if Rutland County Council was at the helm.

What do you think? Write to smeditor@stamfordmercury.co.uk

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