411 years ago, a group of gentlemen dissatisfied with the politics of the day and led by a Warwickshire native set about changing the status quo via extreme methods.  Although SALFV were joined on the steps of Rugby Town Hall today by Guy Fawkes, the only explosive element of proceedings was the sheer volume of signatures (1667) on the petition calling for Rugby Borough Council to remove Lodge Farm from the Draft Local Plan and extend the Consultation beyond the 6 weeks minimum period permissible by law.  697 completed objection forms and letters of objection accompanied the petition, adding further fuel to the Lodge Farm (DS10) bonfire.

Councillor Stokes (Leader of Rugby Borough Council), Councillor Timms (Portfolio Holder for Growth and Investment) and Mr Back (Head of Growth and Investment) had been invited to meet with SALFV at 11am to receive the petition.  Not one of these public servants acknowledged this invitation for constructive dialogue with their council tax-paying residents and SALFV were directed to deliver the petition to the Customer Service Advisers in the Reception Area at Rugby Town Hall.

While passing motorists showed their support for SALFV by sounding their horns, David Thompson (SALFV Chairman) addressed the watching press and assembled crowd. David briefly summarised SALFV's objections against the Lodge Farm proposal, notably:

  • Lodge Farm is unsustainable
  • Lodge Farm would be an intrusive incursion into the countryside.
  • Lodge Farm will increase traffic congestion and pollution.
  • Lodge Farm will increase flooding risk.
  • Lodge Farm will not deliver affordable housing.

and invited all Rugby Borough Councillors to join with SALFV in rejecting the Lodge Farm proposal outright.

Later, as SALFV supporters quietly and patiently waited in the Reception Area, a Planning Officer was contacted who kindly acknowledged the receipt of the petition (1667 signatures) and also 697 completed objection forms and letters of objection. Once safe delivery of the petition and objections was complete, SALFV supporters dispersed throughout Rugby Borough and West Northamptonshire. While some progressed via Dunchurch, passing "Guy Fawke's House", there were no incendiary moments and certainly no horse-rustling at Warwick Castle (unlike the Gunpowder Plotters of 1605!).

Everything that we have worked for over the past two months has now come down to this: Writing Objections to the Local Plan. 

Tonight we have held an excellent session of objection writing at Willoughby Village Hall where participants learned about the Local Plan, and how to write effective objections that matter when it comes to the public examination.

We are holding a further drop in session all day Thursday at Grandborough Village Hall from 9AM to 9PM. Drop in ANYTIME during those hours, bring family, friends and neighbours, as every objection and every signature counts. 10 minutes of your time means one extra objection written, and another nail in the proverbial coffin of Lodge Farm Village.

The upcoming week marks a major landmark in the timeframe for our campaign: Rugby Borough Council is opening up it's consultation period from the 25th of September to the 11th of November. This means that now, officially, any objections we send in will have to be taken into account.

This is also an extremely busy week, when we are counting on your support, now more than ever:

Wednesday 28th September - Dunchurch Village Hall - 7:30PM we will be providing the first update since the publication of the draft plan. There are a number of key developments you need to know which will be dealt with at the meeting.

Thursday 29th September - Grandborough Village Hall - 7pm - Rugby Borough Council's planning officers and other officials will be there to listen to our views and answer questions. This is a critical event - where we need every single person that can make it, to come and tell officers that this proposal is unacceptable! Bring family, friends, neighbours. Please ensure you are able to make this critical event. EVERY voice WILL COUNT, and your objections WILL BE RECORDED.

Saturday 1st October - Tollgate Farm (off A45) - 11:00 Massive Protest Rally against Lodge Farm - we will be joined by the BBC, ITV, Rugby FM and various newspaper outlets, as well as the Rt. Hon. Jeremy Wright M.P. (Attorney General).  Come join us and show your support, as well as sign a petition urging the council to remove Lodge Farm from the Local Plan and extend the consultation period.

Braking News:

a) Lodge Farm has grown from 1500 houses to nearly 1800 in it's current location - according to the site assessment provided by the council.

b) Lodge Farm has additional development land proposed North of the A45 with an additional 118HA bringing the total development to circa 600 acres and nearly 4000 homes! The map below comes from the RBC plan additional documents. In the Council's availability assessment the site North of the A45 "Site is in agricultural use. Intention of landowner to develop. Site is considered available for development."



c) IF we do nothing, we could expect the first homes to be in place on or before 2020.

If you had any doubt that this site will grow - I would urge you to erase those doubts now.

If you had any doubts that this site will impact YOU and YOUR family - I urge you to consider what 4000 homes, 9000 people, 6000 cars will do to our roads, countryside, secondary school spaces, property values, GP surgery, hospital beds, policing and more.

Please share this email with everyone you know and urge them to join us this week! We cannot win this without your help.

 

It's been two weeks since our last comprehensive update and I know many of you have been asking what progress we have made and what you can do to help.

What has been happening?

A. Consultation Period Now Open:

As many of you know on Monday the 26th of September, Rugby Borough Council has begun it's 6 week consultation period on the Local Plan, by releasing piecemeal documentation on it's website and in various locations around the Borough. The consultation period is scheduled to close on the 11th of November.
It is important to note that any objections to Lodge Farm can only be lodged during the consultation period itself.

- What documents are available?

Rugby Borough Council has publicised 34 documents for consultation - and an additional 23 documents in it's "Evidence Base" for a total in excess of 3000 pages. They are located here: https://www.rugby.gov.uk/directory_record/935/local_plan

- What is SALFV doing with the documents?

We have engaged two respectable planning consultants to assess the documents made available by the council to identify ways in which we can object to the proposed Garden Village. We estimate to have initial feedback from the consultants during the next week, and our aim is to have this feedback available on the website as it becomes available.

The feedback will enable you to object using evidence and correct planning points, which will give increased weight to any objection lodged.

- What can you do in the meanwhile?

The Council has given the public the minimum legal timeframe possible to consult: 6 weeks. Public law requires the council to give adequate time for consideration and response, and HM Government's Cabinet Office suggests 12 weeks should be the appropriate timeframe. You can find this publication by clicking here.

As such 3 Members of Parliament, Jeremy Wright QC MP (The Attorney General), Mark Pawsey MP, and Chris Heaton-Harris MP, as well as SALFV, Grandborough Parish Council, and many members of the community have written to RBC requesting an increase in the period of consultation, to allow members of the public to digest the information provided, understand the implications, and formulate responses.

If you would like to help, please write to:

Rob Back - Head of Strategic Planning at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and
Cllr. Heather Timms - Portfolio Holder for Growth and Investment at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In your message you can request that the consultation period be extended beyond the 11th of November, to allow proper scrutiny of the Local Plan, and formulation of responses, given the size of the documentation provided, and the impact it is likely to have on the residents of the Borough. 

B. Events:

So far we have held 4 public meetings in Grandborough, Dunchurch, Barby, and Braunston, as well as the Rally at Lodge Farm, which was attended by nearly 500 people, despite the torrential downpour. We were also honoured to be joined by Jeremy Wright MP who spoke passionately about why we are so concerned about this proposal.

We are planning a further event in Willoughby, as well as a Objection Writing Workshop / Drop in session at Grandborough, on the 20th of October. Further details will be circulated closer to the time.

C. Website

The website at www.salfv.org is currently in the process of being revamped, to make it easier to use, more informative, and in preparation for us to upload all the objection points as they become available from our planning consultants. We expect to have the new website live at the start of the week.

D. Fundraising

We are in the process of obtaining costs for the professional and legal services we expect to need to fund the campaign. These are mainly the following:

- Planning Consultancy
- Highways and Traffic assesment
- Deliverability assessment (sewage, roads,etc) for Lodge Farm
- Representation at the Public Examination (should we get that far) by a Planning Barrister as well as a Planning consultant

We have thus far raised in excess of £11,000 and many of you have donated generously. We expect the funds required to be in the region of £30,000, so we need your help. Please visit our donations page at: gofund.me/salfv and give as much or as little as you can afford. Professional help is extremely expensive and £100 only buys ½ hour of a highly qualified Planning Consultant. Every little bit helps and we are extremely grateful to those who have already contributed. We will be making more direct efforts to supplement our funds and, if you would like to make a regular contribution of (say) £5 a month for 6 months, that would be fine. Equally, you may prefer to make a pledge today to pay a sum in the future when funding is required.

If you are unable or uncomfortable donating online, please contact us for our bank details or write a cheque made payable to SALFV.

Any balance of funds left over when the campaign is victorious will be donated to Friends of St. Cross Hospital.

What is the plan going forward?

A. Work with the planning consultants to identify the areas of objection based on the proposed site's sustainability and delivery according to the National Planning Policy Framework.

B. Commission a traffic and highways assessment, and a deliverability assessment for the site to gather the necessary evidence to rebut the council's assertions in their sustainability assessment.

C. Publish the evidence that Lodge Farm is unsustainable and undeliverable, whilst at the same time pointing out that there is a much more suitable site available for development at Walsgrave, near Coventry. It is at this stage that we will be inviting everyone to write in their objections to the plan.

D. Organise a number of "Objection Workshops" and "Drop in Sessions" where people can come in and receive help drafting their objection.

E. Continue to work with RBC Councillors, MP's and other elected officials to shift the political opinion away from Lodge Farm.

If the Council decides to ignore our objections and proceeds with Lodge Farm to Public Examination, we plan to appear at the examination, professionally represented with a Barrister and Planning Consultant to give evidence to the Planning Inspector that the site is unsustainable and undeliverable.

Other opportunities for attack using the legal route also exist.

Are we confident of victory?

We continue to hope that reason will prevail and the councillors will agree with us that Lodge Farm is an unsustainable development, located in the wrong place, and with detrimental effects to the environment and the countryside contrary to the provisions of the National Planning Policy Framework. However we are prepared and are planning to fight a prolonged battle as long as it takes.

Is Lodge Farm really unsustainable?

The Council have commissioned a sustainability assessment for Lodge Farm, and I would like to share with you a part of it. It is worthy of being considered a piece of comedy, if we didn't consider the fact that us, the tax payer, paid for it.

Below are 5 of the 18 criteria of sustainability against which the site is assessed. 

Criteria Nr. 1 seeks to reduce poverty, disadvantage and social exclusion. RBC plans to do that at Lodge Farm by delivering broadband.

Criteria Nr. 2 seeks to provide good quality local services: At Lodge Farm those will be accessed via 2 bus stops.

Criteria Nr. 6 seeks to provide a strong and stable local community. At Lodge Farm 2 bus stops will deliver this objective also.

Criteria Nr. 11 seeks to reduce climate change - Again 2 bus stops rescue this objective also.

Criteria Nr. 14 seeks to promote a sustainable and accessible transport network - You guessed it - 2 bus stops.



I will leave you to draw your own conclusions!

HISTORY

On 6 August 2016 a small group of Grandborough residents assembled at short notice to discuss what action we should take to fight against the proposal contained in the Draft Local Plan of Rugby Borough Council for the period from 2016 to 2031 to establish a village of 1500 houses at Lodge Farm, adjacent to the A45 between the Onley and Grandborough turns. It was agreed that we would convene a public meeting at Grandborough Village Hall on the evening of Thursday, 1 September. This meeting was to be chaired by David Thompson; John Tautu would seek to outline the details of the proposal and its implications; Councillor Emma Crane, the Councillor for the Leam Valley Ward on Rugby Borough Council, would confirm her rejection of the proposal and the action she had taken to question its sustainability and, finally, Richard Allanach of About Turn would identify what action everyone could take to fight the proposal.

THE MEETING

The meeting was attended by approximately 170 people and generated considerable subsequent press coverage. The Rugby Advertiser described the meeting as “jam packed” and there was considerable coverage on the local radio stations both before and after the meeting. The Question and Answer session after the presentations indicated that there was a general consensus that the proposal was not sustainable. Issues mentioned as contributing to this unsustainability included traffic congestion (on the A45, in Dunchurch and the surrounding rural lanes), air pollution, schooling, flooding, effect on rural landscape and threats to wildlife. These are all valid reasons for objecting to the proposal.
A significant majority of people attending the meeting indicated their willingness to support the campaign and indicated in which areas they could help. One delegate from a neighbouring village enquired whether the presenters would be prepared to hold further similar meetings in neighbouring villages. As a response, we have now arranged to hold two further meetings in Braunston and Dunchurch before the Public Rally at Tollgate Farm on Saturday, 1 October  2016.

PUBLIC MEETINGS

Two further meetings have been arranged as follows:-
 
Tuesday, 20 September, Braunston Village Hall; 7.30 pm
Wednesday, 28 September, Dunchurch Village Hall; 7.30 pm
 
The meetings will be similar to that held at the Grandborough Village Hall but adapted to meet the specific concerns of residents living in the vicinity of the meetings. Please encourage any of your friends who are concerned about the proposal and/or would like to learn more to attend. Over the next two or three days, we are embarking on a substantial leafletting campaign with leaflets being distributed to villagers in Dunchurch, Thurlaston, Braunston, Onley, Flecknoe, Sawbridge and Wolfhamcote. A limited distribution will be made to villages on the periphery of the area. At the same time, you will notice placards and notices in the villages publicising these events. The leaflets and banners for the first public meeting and these placards are the first items of expenditure incurred in the campaign.
 
We had originally planned a further meeting at Barby. However, the referendum on their Neighbourhood Plan takes place on 29 September and the Chairman of Barby and Onley Parish Council requested us to change our plans. We understand that residents of Barby are as concerned about the proposal as other villages. The Parish Council has included details of the proposal and of their opposition in their recent Parish Newsletter and we can expect strong support from the village. The Parish Council have written to Daventry District Council stating their objections to Rugby Borough Council’s draft plan. We will need a team to leaflet and erect placards in Barby on the morning of Friday, 30 September. Any volunteers?

PUBLIC PROTEST RALLY

A Public Protest Rally will take place at Tollgate Farm, Woolscott on Saturday, 1 October. Timing is 10.30 am for 11.00 am and ample car parking will be available. Tollgate Farm is located at the turn to Grandborough off the A45. You will see the signs advertising the event erected on the site tomorrow. It is VITAL that everyone attends this Rally. Several members of your Committee have abandoned their holiday plans in order to be present.
 
The formal part of the Rally will be completed by 11.30 am and we are hoping that not less than 500 people will attend. If everyone brings 5 friends, we will get to 1000!  We have invited the Press, the Radio and Television. Our  Constituency MP, Rt. Hon. Jeremy Wright MP;QC, has confirmed that he will address the meeting. We request that you sign the Petition which will be available. This will be presented to an appropriate “dignitary” at some time during our campaign in front of the media.

OTHER ACTIVITIES

Members of the Committee are working tirelessly to ensure that our case is heard. However, we are also undertaking other activities to ensure that we leave no stone unturned in presenting the case that Lodge Farm is an unsustainable site for a village of 1500 houses and that there are other more sustainable sites. Meetings have been arranged with Planning Consultants and, dependent on their advice, we shall be writing letters and arranging meetings with the Officers and Councillors of Rugby Borough Council. We are also keeping in close touch with Councillor Emma Crane who is making a huge effort to ensure that she properly reflects the opinion of her constituents.

WHAT CAN I DO?

In the short term, please encourage people to attend the Public Meetings in Braunston and Dunchurch and to attend the Rally on 1 October and, of course, to attend the Rally yourself with as many family and friends as possible. If you feel you can make a specific contribution to our campaign, please contact us.
 
Also, please keep in contact with developments on our Website (www.salfv.org) and on Facebook SALFGV (Stand Against Lodge Farm Green Village). We have now added a “Frequently Asked Questions” section to our website.
 
You may feel that it is worthwhile writing to Rugby Borough Councillors and your MP now. If so, please look at Richard Allanach’s  guidance notes available on our website. However, the formal Consultation Period on the Draft Plan does not commence until 26 September. On that date the Sustainability Appraisal will also be published which will seek to demonstrate that the proposed development is “sustainable”. It is this supporting document which our letters must challenge.
 
After the publication of the Draft Local Plan and the Sustainability Appraisal and the opening of the Consultation Period on 26 September, we shall need a few days – perhaps a week – to obtain professional advice and prepare a series of “pro forma letters of objection”. These will be placed on our website and can be used as templates. We will also be arranging to hold “workshops” in the local villages to help with letter writing. Dates will be published later.
 
Finally, several people have given incredibly generously of their time. They are doing this for the benefit of us all. If you are unable to do this, perhaps you could make a financial donation. Effective campaigning costs money and we promise to be frugal. You can donate through our website or by making a cheque out to SALFV and sending it to Castle Lea, Castle Lane, Woolscott, Rugby CV23 8DE. Any surplus funds when we are successful will be donated to The Friends of St. Cross and Tracey Lennard has agreed to lead the fund raising campaign.