Controversial Hucknall footpath plan faces public inquiry

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A public inquiry is to be held into a controversial planning application for diversion of a popular footpath between Hucknall Bypass and Bulwell Hall Park.

The proposal is part of a plan for a new access road from the bypass to a business park earmarked for the Rolls-Royce site.

A planning application, submitted by Rolls-Royce and development company Muse, has been referred by Ashfield District Council’s planning committee to the Planning Inspectorate.

The diversion would mean that the public footpath no longer passes the picturesque Farleys Spring, which is notable for its crystal-clear water.

The inspectorate, based in Bristol, agreed to the inquiry after previously saying it thought a procedure of written representations would be an appropriate way of dealing with the matter.

The decision is a victory for Hucknall’s Reach Out residents group, which has consistently pressed for the inquiry.

In a letter to objectors, which they received this week, the inspectorate asked for their views on the suggestion of representations in writing to reach them by next Monday (2nd February).

The chairman of Reach Out, Sally Wyatt, said this deadline would not have given objectors enough time to come up with a response.

Hucknall’s Conservative MP, Mark Spencer, stressed: “The most important thing is to make the right decision.”

A spokesman for the inspectorate said: “Initially, it was felt that the application could be dealt with by written representations and a letter seeking views on this option was sent to parties concerned.

“The letter was asking for views on the process and not for representations. For that reason, we felt that the time given to respond was adequate.

“As a result of that letter, we have received a request from one of the statutory parties for the matter to be heard at a local publlic inquiry. Having considered that request carefully, we have agreed to arrange an inquiry.”

The spokesman emphasised that the inspectorate would make sure everyone affected had the opportunity to give their views.