Kirkby housing plans given go ahead

Planning permission for a large housing and sports development in Kirkby has been granted - despite concerns about the impact of extra traffic.

Only seven of 17 members of Ashfield District Council’s planning committee attended Wednesday’s meeting, at which plans for Westerman Homes’ Larwood Park development were discussed.

The application was to build 225 dwellings and a sports facility consisting of two rugby pitches, a multi-use games area, a netball court, a sports pavilion and on-site open space, on land east of Sutton Road and south of King’s Mill Road East.

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Permission had already been given for the development in principle at a previous planning committee meeting, but this application included new detail on the proposed layout of the houses and highways improvements.

These improvements, which had been accepted by Nottinghamshire County Council’s highways team, propose moving the access further up Sutton Road, towards the junction with the A38, and creating another entrance via Wentworth Road.

Local residents had submitted objections to the district council that focused on concerns about the impact of the development on traffic in the area, fearing it will increase congestion around an already very busy junction.

They suggested that a better entrance to the site would be from Penny Emma Way.

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Sutton Road resident Simon Newman spoke against the plans at the meeting. He said it was ‘outrageous’ that so few councillors had turned up to vote on a development such as this.

He said that due to the congestion around the A38/Sutton Road junction, the new access road proposal was ‘good for getting onto the proposed site, but not for exiting the site’, adding that the Penny Emma Way option was the best one for alleviating traffic problems in the area.

An agent for applicant Westerman Homes said that the access road improvements represented a ‘relatively minor adjustment’ but further improvements to the junction itself will still take place, including changing the configuration of traffic lights so that traffic is not unnecessarily held up by the pedestrian crossings.

Councillors Cheryl Butler and Don Davis both raised doubts about the access onto Sutton Road because of their concerns about the increase in traffic.

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Coun Butler said: “I am not sure I could approve this as I think the access onto Sutton Road is wrong and I think we need to look at Penny Emma Way in a lot more detail.”

In reply, a council planning officer told the meeting that work to see if an access road onto Penny Emma Way could be created has been undertaken but has not been fulfilled because of land ownership issues around where that access would be.

Instead, the layout of the development makes provision to enable a future access to Penny Emma Way, should those issues be resolved in the future.

The councillors were told that it would be an ‘unreasonable requirement’ to defer the application to allow for further work to be done to trace the Penny Emma Way access road landowners, because the highways authority has not raised any objections to the scheme.

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Coun Chris Baron said that there are landowners that the council has been unable to contact so the Penny Emma Way access cannot go forward at this stage.

“We have not got the right to just go straight over that land,” he said.

Coun Warren Nuttall added that if it does go ahead in the future, it will ‘improve the site’.

The application was passed following a vote of five councillors for, versus two against.