Packington Nook Residentsí Association



Open letter to Bob Brown, Managing Director of Hallam Land Management

4th May 2009

Dear Mr Brown

I am interested in the advertisement you placed in the Ashby Times this week, regarding your land at Ashby de la Zouch, known as the Packington Nook site.  In my role as Chairman of the Packington Nook Residents' Association, you will understand that we not only know the site very well, but are fully aware of your plans and the current status of the planning application.
Your advertisement requests comments on a smaller development at this site, of 115 homes, which you say may be standalone, or part of a phased approach to reaching your target of over 1000 homes for the entire site.  I think you and I both know that the former of those options is not one you are very serious about.  We regard the additional scheme as part of a twin-track approach you are taking in respect of obtaining planning permission for the whole site.  It is a common approach of many developers in your position.  You have bought that land to build a lot more than 115 homes.
There is an active and lively debate within North West Leicestershire (as indeed throughout the country) about housing growth and the district council has spent a lot of time and money considering the options.  Local democracy is an important and fundamentally instituted part of the infrastructure of our society in Britain.  The chance for elected local councillors to vote on both strategic plans and individual planning applications is something we should cherish. 
As part of the planning process, consultation with the public is very important and that, of course, is why you retain a public relations company to deal with that very delicate task.  You will know that we have helped you by asking over 3500 local people what they thought about both your planning application and large scale development of Ashby.  The results are compelling - over 95% are against the large scale development of Ashby and 98% are against building on the Packington Nook Site.  Feedback gathered at your own consultations and presented as part of your application also, I believe, made it very clear that people don't want development at this site.
In the formal planning process, conducted by North West Leicestershire District Council, not only have many individual members of the public objected to your application, but important statutory consultees including Leicestershire County Council, the Environment Agency and the Highways Agency, have outlined their serious reservations about the site. 
So you will understand that we are unimpressed by your decision to bypass local democracy and the due processes of a very busy planning department, by referring the application to appeal with HM Planning Inspectorate.
I therefore wish to ask, in response to your advertisement, what you intend to do with further comments regarding development at the Packington Nook site, other than ignore them?
I would like to help you with your public consultation and set up an event that will allow you, personally, to gauge the opinions of local people to your development plans.  You are invited to take part in a live public debate which will focus specifically on your plans for the development of the Packington Nook site.  It will be you and me and the people of Ashby.  There will be no glossy leaflets, no public relations people and no planning officers.  We will find someone independent to chair the event at which you and I will both make our cases and then we will field questions from the public.  I am sure that after this first-hand experience you will understand, perhaps a little more intimately, what people in Ashby think about your plans.
In organising this event, perhaps I could ask that if we find a venue, you could then cover the costs of the room hire?  You see, we will be spending our hard-earned money on contesting your appeal and further applications.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Yours sincerely
Nigel Garnham
Packington Nook Residents' Association

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