Hostel bid sparks crime fears in Bestwood Village

Forge Mill, Mill Lane, Bestwood Village.
Forge Mill, Mill Lane, Bestwood Village.

The leader of Ashfield District Council was heckled by angry Bestwood Village residents protesting plans to convert an historic mill into a hostel for ex-offenders.

Residents claimed the owner of Forge Mill had flouted regulations and already begun rennovating the Grade II listed building on Mill Lane.

As Coun Baron attempted to explain planning procedures, one resident shouted: “It stinks and we can all smell it!”

And when he told residents the planning office had ‘written a letter advising the developer to stop work’, he was answered by derisive heckling from the increasingly frustrated crowd.

Oxfordshire-based Mike Pepper, of Baybe.org Ltd, who bought the mill in 2012, submitted the application on 10th November 2014 to include residential accommodation.

Ken Carr, of Millbank Place Residents’ Group, said: “Our biggest fear is not knowing what is coming as Mr Pepper has not been upfront about his plans for the site or consulted residents.

“We believe the timing of this latest submission so close to Christmas was engineered in the hope that only a few people would be aware of it.

“We have been knocking on doors around the village to get signatures for the petition and by holding this meeting tonight it is a way of raising awareness of the development and gauging the opinions of the village.”

Over 300 people packed into Bestwood Village Social Club last Thursday to find out more about the plans and voice their objections to the scheme.

“It is disgusting that someone can plan to put a hostel in a family orientated area with no consultation,” said one resident.

Another added: “The open space and rural nature of the area make this site inappropriate.”

Sherwood MP Mark Spencer addressed the meetingL

“It’s vital that you as a group focus on the issue and get the argument right. Ashfield District Council has not made their decision yet and it’s important that they don’t underestimate your views as a community.

“The turnout tonight shows the strength of feeling and you need to make your objections clear to the planning officers.”

Mr Carr added: “The response of residents of the Bestwood Village community attending was a stand of solidarity in itself.”

To view the planning application visit www.ashfield-dc.gov.uk and search for applications V/2014/0596 and /0597