It’s where Richard of York gave battle in vain, the place where English history changed forever. But now the site of Battle of Bosworth is facing changes of its own after local councillors gave the go ahead for a vehicle test track to be constructed in the area.
Technology company, Horiba MIRA, had asked for permission to construct a site for testing driverless vehicles at its Leicestershire base which sits next to the battlefield. The project, covering 84 acres, will include the company building on a small piece of the land where the famous battle was fought. Hinckley and Bosworth Council approved the plans on Tuesday by 12 votes to 5.
Thousands of people had signed a petition against the development and the council received objections to the proposals from organisations including the Battlefield Trust which said that Bosworth is ”one of the most important battlefields in England and its preservation should be of high priority for everyone.” Historic England also opposed the plans which it said would damage the significance of the site.
The Battle of Bosworth took place on August 22nd 1485 when the forces of Henry Tudor defeated the army of King Richard III. Richard was killed at the battle while his opponent was crowned King Henry VII. The battle brought to an end the Wars of the Roses, which had consumed England for decades, and also marked the end of the rule of the Plantagenet dynasty.
Opponents are particularly concerned by the plan as the part of the area that will be built on is where Henry Tudor made his approach to the battlefield. The track will cover the spot where Henry first saw the king’s army and Sally Henshaw of the Richard III Society said that ”it’s absolutely crucial to the battle that that part isn’t destroyed forever.”
The council said after the decision that it had weighed the ‘economic benefits’ the site would bring against ‘the harm to the designated battlefield.” The new facility, which will cost £26 million to build, is expected to create around 1,000 jobs. Once finished, there are plans for up to 25 driverless vehicles, including buses, trucks and military cars, to be test on it every day.
The council was originally set to make a decision several weeks ago but deferred its vote, asking Horiba MIRA, to see whether its plans could be redrawn. Petitions against the development have attracted thousands of signatures while Hinckley and Bosworth Council received over 450 letters protesting against the plans in the run up to the latest vote. Appeals against the decision are expected to follow.