Historic clubs at risk in sprawling housing plans

GOING UP IN SMOKE? The Merlin Flying Club organise the annual Merlin Pageant air show

GOING UP IN SMOKE? The Merlin Flying Club organise the annual Merlin Pageant air show

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THE future of Hucknall’s Merlin Flying Club has been put under threat by the multi-million-pound masterplan for a huge expanse of Hucknall’s Rolls-Royce site.

And Hucknall’s Air Training Corps (ATC) squadron would also be hard hit by the groundbreaking proposals.

Both organisations are based at Rolls, where 900 new homes and a business park covering 100,000 square metres are proposed.

Merlin, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is likely to be permamently grounded through no longer being able to use space on the site for an airfield.

At a meeting of Hucknall’s Reach Out residents group this week, chairman Sally Wyatt said the ATC squadron would have to move from its present base off Watnall Road, possibly to the Bulwell side of the site.

The flying club’s activities are highlighted by its annual Wings And Wheels Pageant, which features vintage aircraft and classic cars.

The ATC squadron has built up an excellent reputation and its cadets are regularly to be seen at various activities in the town, including the annual Remembrance service.

At a public consultation about the masterplan, some residents said it was very regrettable that the two popular and well-established organisations would be severely affected.

At a meeting of Hucknall’s Reach Out residents group this week, a woman summed up a prevailing view when she said she was ‘not at all happy’ about the plan for so many homes, which is a key feature of the groundbreaking proposals.

But Coun Chris Baron, a Hucknall Labour member for Hucknall West ward on Ashfield District Council, said the housing development was justified because it would be built alongside the business park, which may create up to 2,000 jobs.

Criticism of the scheme is focused mainly on concerns about the traffic impact.

A new access for the Rolls plant and business park, with a traffic island, is proposed off Hucknall byfpass.

There would be two separate new accesses, also with roundabouts, from Watnall Road just for the housing development.

Fears have been voiced that this new layout could lead to major traffic congestion on Watnall Road and the bypass, particularly at its problem junction with Nottingham Road/Hucknall Lane.

The same opinion was frequently expressed at a public consultation on the Rolls site. This was organised by regeneration group Muse, which is working with Rolls to carry out the project.

One man said he was strongly against the 900 homes because they would cause an ‘urban sprawl’.

The masterplan was one of the last items on a long agenda at the Reach Out meeting and members said they ‘did not have two hours to talk about it’.

It was therefore decided to arrange a special meeting and invite a representative of Muse to speak about the plans.