County leader in planning power grab

By Dan Peters | 18 May 2021

A council leader has called for counties to be given planning powers for ‘big infrastructure’ as he seeks to break the deadlock with a district.

Leicestershire CC had originally been given until the end of last year to accept or decline £15m from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) towards the south section of the Melton Mowbray southern distributor relief road.

However, wrangling has continued between the county and Melton BC, with Leicestershire leader, Cllr Nicholas Rushton, describing the negotiations as ‘turgid’.

The county had asked Melton to share the risk by underwriting £10m but the district has insisted it cannot afford to pay more than £1m.

Cllr Rushton, who has backed the creation of unitaries, said: ‘The basic problem is that planning powers lie with the lower tier but the expenses lie with the upper tier.

'It’s really hard for us.

'The expenses are huge.

‘I’m not interested in pinching district councils’ powers over extensions apart from on big infrastructure like this.’

A Melton spokesperson said: ‘Melton remains committed to supporting infrastructure investment within the borough.

'We are aware the county council continues to work with Homes England on securing the HIF and we are working with them both to do what we can to assist.’

Homes England said it continued to work to progress the project into contract.

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