Bombshell plan for 4,500 new homes in Hucknall area

Top Wighay Farm site
Top Wighay Farm site

A BOMBSHELL proposal has been unveiled to build a staggering total of up to 4,500 new houses on the outskirts of Hucknall.

The greenfield Top Wighay Farm site, between Hucknall and Linby, has been pinpointed by Gedling Borough Council as ‘Option One’ in a range of schemes to meet housing needs over the next 18 years.

Coun Bob Brothwell at the Linby lights switch-on

Coun Bob Brothwell at the Linby lights switch-on

But protesters say the idea is a “bolt from the blue” and would sound the death knell for individual communities of Hucknall and its neighbouring villages.

Coun Bob Brothwell, chairman of Linby Parish Council, has been campaigning against development at Top Wighay for more than 17 years.

He labelled the latest proposal as “a noose around the neck” of parts of the district.

“I am furious,” he said as he promised a full campaign. “This would mean a massive expansion of Hucknall and it is the residents of the town, and those in places like Linby, who would suffer the pain, not those in the main parts of Gedling.

“We cannot cope. We do not have the infrastructure to cope. This is nothing but a dumping exercise by Gedling. It would mean getting rid of most of its housing allocation in one place.

“It is akin to the underdog being stamped on by the masses. I want to see our MP and councillors taking a lead against this. Not just one community would be destroyed. A cluster of communitieswould be destroyed. It would make the lives of Hucknall residents hell.

“Politicians need to start acting in a way we would expect — with honesty and in the interests of the people they represent.”

Gedling Council insists the Top Wighay option is an initial proposal. There would be ongoing consultation and the exact numbers of houses was up for debate.

The site, which spans 116 hectares, has been earmarked for housing for several years.

Previously it was thought it could cater for up to 2,000 homes. This was later reduced to just 450 under the Local Plan.

But now the latest suggestion is part of the new Local Development Framework (LDF), which is a blueprint for housing up to 2028.

A consultation document has been sent out by Labour-led Gedling Council with four options detailing major schemes. It says evidence shows a need for 7,268 new houses in the borough.

The four-page leaflet only went out last Sunday and gives residents a month, until Friday November 11, to have their say.

However Hucknall has not been involved in the consultation — even though one of the advantages listed in favour Top Wighay is that it is close to public transport and local services in the town.

Hucknall’s Conservative MP, Mark Spencer, said the Top Wighay option was “wholly wrong”.

“I do not recognise the need to build that many homes,” said Mr Spencer, a former member of Gedling Council.

“This number of houses at Top Wighay is incredible,” he added. “Gedling needs to go back to the drawing board and start again.”

Mr Spencer has lined up a meeting with the head of planning at Gedling. He added: “I would encourage as many people as possible to speak out and say no to building at Top Wighay.”

Coun Mick Murphy (Con), a Hucknall member of Notts County Council, said: “I am absolutely outraged at even the suggestion of this many houses at Top Wighay.

“It is outrageous. I hope the whole of Hucknall and the local villages are up in arms and get on board with a fight against this.”

A shocked Coun Ian Morrison, a Hucknall Labour member of Ashfield District Council, has called for a high-level meeting between leaders and planners at Ashfield and counterparts at Gedling.

Coun Chris Baron, also a Hucknall Labour member of Ashfield Council, said: “We will strongly oppose this. It is a matter of Gedling dumping housing on a site remote from Gedling but with the impact on Hucknall.

“It is diabolical. I can assure Dispatch readers we will be fighting tooth and nail against this.”

Coun Roy Allan (Lab), lead member for economic and strategic development at Gedling, said: “No decisions have yet been made. The aim of the document is to find out the views of all households in the borough about the difficult decisions the council needs to make on future housing provision.

“Top Wighay Farm has long been a possibility for future development. It was safeguarded for this purpose in our 2005 Local Plan and now is one of the four options under consideration.

“One of the challenges Top Wighay Farm faces is that it needs improved accessibility to make it a truly sustainable location. Based on specialist transport advice, the site would need to provide an additional 4,500 homes to those already allocated to generate the funding for a tram extension from Hucknall that would make the site sustainable. This is why that figure is quoted in the document.

“This does not mean that that many houses would have to be built, or that they could all fit on the land already allocated.

“Those issues would be the subject of further, detailed consultation with local residents and stakeholders and this would include full discussion with Ashfield District Council if we did decide to progress this.

“We want people to say what they would do and make a positive choice between the four large sites available to us. If people are unhappy with the Top Wighay proposal, we’re inviting them through this consultation to say where they would rather see homes built from the other options available. We look forward to receiving their views.”