FIRED-UP campaigners voiced their concerns about major plans to develop Hucknall’s Rolls Royce during a heated public meeting on Tuesday.
Up to 150 residents attended the event in what became a ‘war of words’ with developers and planning officers at The Holgate School.
Representatives from Ashfield District Council, developers MUSE and land-owners Rolls Royce, fielded questions from a hostile audience after a presentation explaining the planning process for the 117-hectare site. No-one at the meeting voiced their support for the scheme.
The meeting was organised by the Reach Out residents’ group whose chairman, Sally Wyatt, tried to control the angry opponents who passionately expressed their reasons against the proposals.
“I’m pleased that a lot of residents had the chance to speak,” said Sally, after the meeting. “I don’t think they were satisfied with what they heard but it was a good meeting and the best we could do under the circumstances.”
Concerns raised by residents included:
l An increase in traffic the scheme would bring.
l Changes to the road network and access to the site.
l The environmental impact on local nature areas and the impact the extra people would have on the town and its infrastructure.
Developers spoke about the mitigating features of the site which may include a new primary school and green space to be gifted to the town, but the residents appeared unconvinced.
Geoff Thorpe and his family live on Farleys Lane and said his house would back on to the suggested roundabout making their lives hell.
“This roundabout will have a major impact on our lives as it will sit at the bottom of our garden,” said Mr Thorpe. “And after raising my complaint to Rolls Royce and MUSE it appears they didn’t even know our houses were there.
“We will be plagued by the sound of the traffic decelerating and accelerating as they approach and leave the island.”
But the applicants said traffic surveys had been carried out in the area and insisted the news plans would slow traffic down and help prevent accidents.
Another objector suggested that the business and industrial units would simply be used for warehousing with minimal impact on employment locally.
But Dan Needham, of MUSE, said that this was unlikely due to the height limitations on the buildings and the location.
Rolls Royce’s property manager, Robert Orgill, said it was hoped some companies involved in their own supply chain would set up shop on the site to support their new plant.
He said it could be possible that some of their 1,100 workers could be interested in the new housing potential.
“We are investing in the town and its growth,” said Mr Orgill. “But Rolls Royce can’t make any guarantees, we can only provide the platform and opportunities.
“We are a global company and some of our many employees may live here. We don’t need this land anymore so we are creating opportunities for the town to grow and not stagnate.”
But residents are against the scale of the development, which will include 900 homes and a business park, and raised the issue of other developments being proposed elsewhere in the town and the combined effect of them, including the Top Wighay site, Broomhill Farm and the land at Hucknall Town Football Club.
Vicky McCormick, of Edgewood Drive, asked about school provision. She expressed worries over the lack of provision for children on the Papplewick Lane development and said although a school has been promised for 2014 the need was now.
“The families there have been left with nothing,” she said. “They are crying out for a school as the current ones are overloaded and families are being turned away.”
Ashfield Council’s Beverley Alderton, said the authority have been in discussions with their colleagues at Nottinghamshire County Council about what the development would mean to schooling provision in the area.
Although a primary school has formed part of the outline plans, there has been no suggestion of secondary provision.
But former Holgate teacher Martin Gill said this was unlikely as there had been little investment in Holgate.
“It is a disgrace that the buildings at Holgate have been left to deteriorate with very little money spent on the school facilities,” he said.
Mr Gill also criticised the plans to take the access road to the site through the nature reserve, which he said was well used by dog-walkers, horse-riders, bikers and families.
“This area has just been improved with pathways, markers and sculptures and it will all be disturbed by this development,” he declared. “You should find an alternative route.”
Mr Gill’s objections were cheered on by many other people at the meeting who also spoke about the environmental impact, asked how the extra areas would be policed and reasoned why a pub and restaurant was being planned but not a vital doctors’ surgery.
Today is the deadline for any formal objections to be made to Ashfield District Council. The plans can be viewed in detail on its website at www.ashfield-dc.gov.uk. It is expected that the application will go before the planning committee on 20th June.
The next meeting for the Reach Out group will be held at The Holgate School on 14th May at 6.30pm.