HIGHLY controversial plans for a new housing development on green-belt land in the Dispatch district have taken a major step forward.
The Labour-controlled Gedling Borough Council has decided to submit its aligned core strategy to the Secretary of State.
The proposals, which provoked a sometimes stormy debate at a meeting of the council this week, include a total of 2,200 homes being built in the Linby and Bestwood Villages.
A fight to stop the development dates back to 1996 and has gathered momentum during the past year, with two public meetings held and banners prominently displayed.
A campaign group called Brownfield 1st has been formed to succeed GAG5, which represented the affected villages of Linby, Papplewick, Bestwood, Newstead and Ravenshead.
Gedling has been asked to find space for 7,250 new homes. But the council’s Conservative group leader, Coun Chris Barnfather, claimed at the meeting that this high number was not justified.
He said the impact on Bestwood Village, where 600 new homes were earmarked, would be very considerable.
“We are talking of a village with one corner shop, no pub, no doctor’s surgery, a limited bus service and a primary school which is over-subscribed,” he told the meeting. “There is only one main road out of Bestwood and that was recently blocked in the direction of Bulwell because of flooding, which cut off the entire village.”
Coun Barnfather said Linby, a conservation village with just 86 houses and the ‘jewel in Gedling’s crown’, would find itself right alongside an estate of 1,000 new homes to be built on the Top Wighay Farm site.
“The impact in terms of infrastructure will fall on neighbouring Hucknall,” he pointed out. “There would be far-reaching traffic implications - the Griffins Head crossroads at Papplewick is gridlocked every morning as it is.”
Coun Patricia Andrews (Con), who represents Linby and Papplewick on the council, said it was wrong that two such small and lovely villages should have to bear the brunt of large-scale development. She said it was vital to explore any possibility of brownfield (previously used) sites being used instead.
Labour members said a suggestion to use the former Gedling Colliery site for new homes was ‘unrealistic’, due to the exceptionally high cost of a new access road.
Gedling’s deputy leader, Coun Michael Payne (Lab), said it was vital that the council had an effective core strategy and a huge amount of hard work had gone into producing the document.
He added: “I believe we have a sensible and sound strategy to deliver growth and jobs to this borough.”
Coun leader Coun John Clarke (Lab) claimed that full consultation had taken place. He told the meeting: “16,000 questions have been asked and answered.”
But after the meeting, Coun Bob Brothwell, chairman of Linby Parish Council and a spokesman for Brownfield 1st, said: “The fight will go on to the bitter end.”
He claimed: “The council has failed to consult people properly. It became quite clear at the meeting that the opposition - Conservatives, Liberal-Democrats and Independents - had not been involved in the planning. I think the strategy is seriously flawed. As far as Leicestershire is concerned, a government inspector has said ancient villages should be protected, but Gedling are turning a blind eye to what will happen with our villages. There is no need for the strategy to be rushed through and it could have been deferred for further consideration.”