Local plan sparks controversy

Ashfield District Councillors have given the green light to the district's preferred Local Plan.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 12th January 2016, 3:18 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th January 2016, 3:24 pm

Kirkby Ashfield District Council Offices
NMAC10-2465-2 Kirkby Ashfield District Council Offices

A meeting of Ashfield district Councl’s Cabinet on Thursday voted in favour of the plan which will allocate housing land over the next 15 years.

Councillors approved the draft Local Plan which includes almost 500 new houses to be built in Ashfield every year until at least 2032.

But this week opposition councillors have signalled their intention to call the decision in for further scrutiny, saying the plan is not robust enough and that they were not consulted properly.

Independent councillor Jason Zadrozny said: “The plan has been rushed through. A meeting we were supposed to have in November was cancelled.

“They had the opportunity to make sure the process is robust and transparent. All they were saying about cross party working was absolutely rubbish.

“Mowlands in Kirkby, Beck Lane in Skegby, land behind Kings Mill Hospital, Ashland Road West, Sutton Junction and Chesterfield Road, Huthwaite are major casualties along with many other smaller sites.

He added: “Labour bosses are clearly working hand in hand with developers and ignoring the thousands of residents who would have preferred to see development and regeneration of the many brownfield sites that are now left to rot.”

Up to october there were three different options.

“After they cancelled the November meeting , no-one from the opposition had any feedback and what was announced was a complete surprise to us.

“There was no feedback for choosing which sites. For example Sutton and Kirkby has 67 per cent of the potential development.

“We didn’t ask for that.

“We are going to call it and we have eight signatures from the opposition councillors.

He said there were a number of sites which had been thrown out which would have been better and have less impact, including brownfield sites at Stanton Hill.

Coun Zadrozny said if one of bigger developments such as Mowlands, Sutton Junction and Beck Lane was lost, the whole plan would fail.

He added: “The plan is not robust enough and the decision has to come to a full scrutiny committee to make them look at it again.”

He said The calling in process would probably take a fortnight.

Councillor Ben Bradley, the Conservative group’s deputy leader, said: ‘’We’re consistently seeing the Council make decisions before they ask the public, and then hold these so-called ‘consultations’ asking for their views when we all know that the decision is already made.

“We feel it’s undemocratic, to be honest. That’s what’s happened with the bins plan, and in this case with the Housing Plans too. Even the Steering Group that was set up specifically to have an input in to this plan has been left in the dark. We got one look at the three ‘top’ options and then that’s that, we’re told it’s going to Cabinet for approval and we can’t voice our concerns.”

Conservative Leader Kevin Rostance added: “We’re looking at the preferred plan here for new housing, but where is the plan for new infrastructure to support residents?

“It’s no use looking at where all the housing will go when we have no plan to make it sustainable and to provide the services. The tram stop is full, our roads are full, our doctors surgeries are full, what’s the plan? That’s what the public need to know, but they don’t get to find out what’s going on with these decisions until it’s too late for them to have a real input.”

Consultation events on the housing plans will begin later this month with times and dates of meetings still to be announced.