Hucknall group in pledge to fight Rolls scheme

Rolls Royce entrance, Watnall Road, Hucknall.
Rolls Royce entrance, Watnall Road, Hucknall.

Hucknall’s Reach Out residents group is challenging everything to do with plans for 900 new homes and a 26-acre industrial park on the town’s Rolls-Royce site.

This was reported by Geoff Thorpe, chairman of a sub-group looking into the proposals, when he addressed a special meeting at Holgate Academy this week.

“We are keeping a watching brief on all aspects of the scheme,” Mr Thorpe told 86 people who attended the meeting. “In this way, we hope we can help to achieve the best possible outcome.”

The proposals by Rolls-Royce and development company Muse also include a single-storey primary school for 200 children and a pub-restaurant.

Two new traffic islands are planned on Watnall Road at its junctions of Olympus Court and Trent Drive as well as one on Hucknall bypass.

Mr Thorpe pointed out that over the Christmas period, ‘a lot of things’ involving the proposals had been put through to Ashfield District Council’s planning department. “We felt really swamped,” he said.

Applications linked to the scheme will come before the council’s planning committee on Wednesday 25th February. These will include plans by Persimmon Homes to build 174 mixed homes at the top end of the site.

The meeting was told that the council had received a separate application for up to 50 new homes on the former Dowty Mining Equipment site on Watnall Road.

A proposed diversion of the public footpath between the bypass and Bulwell Hall Park has been referred by the council to Secretary of State Eric Pickles.

It was reported that Notts County Council highways department were satisfied that the increased number of vehicles on Watnall Road would be controlled by traffic lights and the islands.

But the meeting was told that a traffic count by a local resident had shown 1,250 vehicles travelling along the road in an hour during an off-peak period. Mr Thorpe said university students would be carrying out further traffic counts and testing noise levels.

For the foreseeable future, it was claimed, there were no plans to improve Moorbridge traffic island in Bulwell, which was reported to be ‘at a standstill’ at busy times.

Section 106 contributions, which are paid by developers for community improvements, include £900,000 for health, spread over the 16 years of the scheme.

But Reach Out chair Sally Wyatt said the money would go to NHS England instead of coming directly to Hucknall.

With regard to a pledge that the industrial park would provide up to 2,000 high-quality jobs, Mr Thorpe said Rolls-Royce had told the sub-group they would not be increasing their workforce over the next five years.

“This means the jobs will be created by construction of the park and any business locating to the site, and none have yet said they will be moving there,” he added.

As part of attempts to deal with a flooding problem on Watnall Road, Hucknall’s Conservative MP, Mark Spencer, said he had tried to find out who was responsible for a blocked drain, but so far without success.

Calls were made at the meeting for residents to keep writing their comments on the development to Ashfield District Council’s planning department, local councillors and the Dispatch.