Hucknall bid to have controversial housing plan scrapped - and petition against thousands of homes for town green belt - set for debate

A motion led by Hucknall councillors calling for a plan for thousands of new homes in the town to be scrapped or replaced will be debated at a pivotal meeting on Tuesday (January 25).

By Andrew Topping
Monday, 24th January 2022, 5:38 pm
The meeting of the Cabinet will discuss the controversial local plan
The meeting of the Cabinet will discuss the controversial local plan

Ashfield District Council published its draft local plan – which sets out where 8,226 homes will be built between now and 2038 – in the autumn.

But the document led to backlash in Hucknall with almost 5,000 of those homes in the document earmarked for the town.

The biggest of which – for an astonishing 3,000 homes – was pinpointed for green-elt land at Whyburn Farm.

It has been reported that the development would come with its own community facilities, including a primary school and a health centre – and could even lead to a tram extension.

However, residents hit out at the plans and the Hucknall Against Whyburn Farm Development (HAWFD) Facebook group was created. It now has more than 4,300 members.

On the back of this, a petition was launched against the Whyburn plans, capturing more than 7,000 signatures. This will also be discussed at the cabinet meeting.

The petition received just 15 minutes of discussion and a separate motion on the issue was deferred to this week’s cabinet meeting, with the cabinet currently the responsible committee for the plan.

The deferral led to accusations the ruling Ashfield Independent group was “squashing democracy on purpose”, claims the party rebuked.

Now campaigners will finally air their concerns, with both the petition and motion to be discussed.

The cross-party motion, submitted by Hucknall councillors Lauren Mitchell (Lab) and Kevin Rostance (Con) called for the cabinet to consider replacing the document “at the earliest possible opportunity”.

It said: “Considerable opposition to the development proposals within the Draft Local Plan to expand Hucknall has been advanced.

“This council, therefore, resolves to request the cabinet to fully take into account the consultation submissions and to address the opposition to the Draft Local Plan.

“This will be done by urgently reviewing this version of the Draft Local Plan, which objectors consider allocates a disproportionate number of dwellings to Hucknall and destroys a significant portion of Green Belt land.

“And considering whether to replace it, at the earliest possible opportunity, with an amended plan.

“This amended plan should allocate a greater level of new housing beyond Hucknall across Ashfield district, and seek to ensure any such plan is sustainable.”

The motion adds the council should consider “the adequacy of all infrastructure and services” when proposing the number of houses to be built.

The ruling Ashfield Independents confirmed they have paused progress on the plan following the first stage of consultation, which ended in November, while the council awaits clarity from Government.

It follows statements made by both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Housing Secretary Michael Gove, who suggested policy shifts from the Government could impact council housebuilding targets.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in September, Mr Johnson said the Government will prioritise housing on brownfield sites and protect greenbelt land, while Mr Gove described housing targets as “outdated”.

The Ashfield Independents hope either of these statements could see the council’s 8,226-home target reduced, with the council finding just 1,109 homes could be built on brownfield sites district-wide.

Coun Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), the council’s leader, previously said: “We’ve asked whether there’s going to be a change of policy or if they want us to proceed.

“We are pausing … while we await an answer and the Government are either going to have to say they’re changing policy or come clean and say we must continue and build.”

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