Good decision-making has saved Hucknall from decay

IN POLITICS it is sometimes easy to concentrate on the negative rather than focus on success.

When I left Hucknall in the late 1980s, the town faced an uncertain future. It had lost the major employer, British Coal, the textile firms were diminishing one by one and many of the traditional engineering firms were closing or moving away.

The decisions made at that time, improving transport links with the tram, train and improved road links, inevitably changed the nature of Hucknall, as did the retail developments on the ex-colliery site.

When I returned to live in the town in late 2008, what I discovered was a popular commuter belt for Nottingham city and the wider East Midlands.

Currently working and travelling around the mining towns of North Nottinghamshire, it is clear that geography and good decision-making saved Hucknall from the decay experienced by towns and villages facing the same plight in the 1980s. When we start to debate housing development, it is important to remember the Hucknall success story.

Unfortunately this success has made Hucknall an attractive area for developers and neighbouring local authorities, such as Gedling Borough Council’s draft proposal to build houses at Top Wighay Farm and Papplewick Lane.

There is however, something called the National Development Framework, which sets out the government’s requirements for the planning system and ensuring that developments are sustainable.

The key aspects of the Framework require new developments to demonstrate how they will:

CONTRIBUTE to a strong, competitive economy;

SUPPORT the community’s health, social and cultural needs;

AND PROTECT and enhance our natural, built and historic environment.

Probably the strongest contribution to a meeting last week on the Gedling Council housing proposals was made by Coun Chris Baron (Lab), who described how the current discussions with Rolls-Royce over development of its site off Watnall Road in Hucknall include all aspects of the National Framework, particularly generating new employment as a cornerstone to any proposed housing development.

Clearly the proposals by Gedling Borough Council address none or few of these considerations. Arguments based on Gedling’s failure to apply the principles of the National Framework are the key to our objections.

In addition to Gedling Borough Council’s failure to address the three core aspects of the Development Framework, some key questions are:

How are the plans going to contribute to the vitality of the town centre and Hucknall’s wider economy?

Is the affordable housing within the proposed sites going to be made available to families living and working in Ashfield?

What major transport improvements do the plans include?

How is the green belt going to be protected?

How will the development contribute to meeting the challenge of climate change?

NEIL CLUROW,

Hucknall, (Address supplied).