The much anticipated southern distributor road took a positive step forward today as Leicestershire County Council reconsidered whether to accept the £15m funding from Homes England as part of the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF).
At a County Council Cabinet meeting held today (Tuesday 20 July) the decision was made to conditionally accept the funding subject to further joint working with Melton Borough Council and Homes England.
Positive step forward for the MMDR. Photo: Leicestershire County Council.
Leader of Melton Borough Council, Cllr Joe Orson welcomed the news by saying:
“Following the overwhelming public support and representations made by ourselves and many others, I am delighted that the County Council have reconsidered their position and are now recommending that they should conditionally accept the Housing Infrastructure Fund grant from Homes England. This will certainly help to put delivery of the southern section of the road back on track.
We have always recognised the significant cost of the infrastructure required to support sustainable growth in Melton, and we have always been prepared to help the County Council manage the financial risks they face as highways and education authority. Clearly, though, given the scale of our budgets we have to be realistic about what we can contribute and through positive dialogue, I am delighted the County Council have recognised this and that we are now in a position to agree a reasonable financial cap which demonstrates our commitment but which will not jeopardise our financial future.
We will be bringing forward a number of important supporting policy documents including a new Developer Contributions Supplementary Planning Document and new and updated master plans for both the northern and southern neighbourhoods, building on the work previously agreed by both councils
Given where things were a month ago, this represents very positive progress and whilst more work is required, by working in partnership we can ensure the funding is secured and the road is delivered.”
Leader of Melton Borough Council, Cllr Joe Orson. Photo: NEMM.
LCC had considered returning the money after failing to reach an agreement with Melton Borough Council (MBC) about how a £50m cost for the project would be redeemed.
Leicestershire County Council said it couldn't afford to pay such an amount upfront without financial guarantees from Melton Borough Council that developers - who want to build thousands of homes south of the town - would agree to foot the rest of the bill.
Rutland and Melton MP Alicia Kearns said: "I am very pleased that Leicestershire County Cabinet will be recommending that the County Council accepts funding for the £15 million HIF bid for the southern section of the MMDR, subject to some conditions.
I know Leicestershire County Council and Melton Borough Council have worked hard on this issue for many months, and I want to thank Melton Borough Council for stretching themselves to share some of the cost burdens of this project. Central government has also worked extremely hard to see this project delivered, and I know Homes England has watched closely to ensure this process is as smooth as possible."
Statutory consultation will commence on the Developer Contributions Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) following consideration by Melton Borough Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday (21st July).
Subject to that consultation, it is anticipated the SPD will be considered by Council for adoption in September. Work on the northern and southern masterplans is already underway and they are expected to be completed and adopted by the end of 2021.