Land News

Decision time for Green Belt plan

Hucknall Today, 21st August, 2004

Another controversial green belt housing development is under the spotlight this week after the recent explosion of objection to the plan for Top Wighay Farm in Hucknall.

For developers were due to hear from Ashfield District Council last night whether they are to be given the initial go-ahead to build 800 homes on land off Papplewick Lane in the town.

The scheme would include amenities such as a school and a doctors' surgery on around 50 hectares of land. The plan is part of Ashfiel's Local Plan, which will see thousands of houses built in the town by 2011.

The area, largely made up of playing fields and agricultural land, is co-owned by the Co-op's property division and Notts County Council.

They are jointly applying to develop on the land and the council hopes to create a brand new community there. The developers must adhere to a strict brief that sets out rules for building on the site.

The outline plans were considered at an Ashfield Council planning meeting where officers had recommended conditional consent be granted. The plan includes proposals for:
More than 20 hectares of open space, including football pitches, footpaths, a small park and a village green;
A new primary school;
and an area for shops, a pub, a creche/nursery, a dental surgery and a doctor's;

Pete Johnson, head of planning services at Ashfield, said: "It's a major development, probably the biggest in Ashfield for the next few years and the largest development in Hucknall. it has always been controversial because it's a greenfield site.

"This area was identified in the Local Plan as housing land and it is the most suitable place in terms of growth. It's close to the town centre, the new tram terminus and the new retail development by Tesco. There is no doubt that traffic will increase on local roads. That is inevitable. But we had to meet targets to provide suitable housing within the area and we think that is the best place to do it."

But there are some local residents who feel the site may be too big and fear for the loss of their neighbourhood.

Dr Mike Heath lives on Papplewick Lane in Hucknall and was chairman of the action group RAGE (Residents Against Greenbelt Eradication), which scrutinised the council's proposals when they were first released in 1997.

He said: "My biggest personal worry is not so much the housing, people need somewhere to live, it's the security and what's going to happen to the roads. With the current bottlenecks I can't see how the town will cope."

Dr Heath believes that regardless of objections made to the council and a massive government-run public consultation on the Local Plan, a decision has already been made.

"They went through this really expensive process asking people, getting their views and the whole thing was a farce. It was decided from the start. It's funny because I read Ashfield are working against Gedling Borough Council building on the Top Wighay site. I think there's been more objection against that because it affects a small village and people see it as the end of village life."

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