Claims PM's pledge could save Hucknall's Whyburn Farm - and other green belt - from thousands of houses

A pledge by the Prime Minister not to allow housing to be built on green-belt sites has sparked claims that Hucknall’s Whyburn Farm could be saved from development.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 8:07 am
Updated Friday, 8th October 2021, 8:07 am

The site is earmarked for 3,000 homes in Ashfield District Council’s emerging local plan – a document that also pinpoints sites for almost 5,000 homes in Hucknall.

But Boris Johnson said this week, in his keynote speech at the Tory Party Conference, that the focus would be on brownfield (used) sites such as former industrial land.

In a release to the Dispatch, it is claimed that should this be carried through, Ashfield’s housing target could be slashed from 8,226 houses to just 1,109 houses.

Boris Johnson delivering his keynote speech at the Tory Party Conference (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Coun Matthew Relf (Ash Ind), Cabinet member for planning and regeneration, has asked for clarification on what would be a major shift in government policy amid a manifesto commitment to build 300,000 new homes a year nationally. Coun Relf has written to Hucknall MP and government chief whip Mark Spencer and Ashfield counterpart Lee Anderson to ask for their support.

Coun Relf said, “Let me be very clear – these housing targets are set by the Conservatives in government.

"Every single viable piece of brownfield land has been included in the plan but this is simply insufficient to hit the targets, which left the council no choice whatsoever but to include green field sites in the proposed plans.

"This change of direction from the Prime Minister is welcome but this rhetoric must be matched by action. If the Prime Minister is true to his word, then he will instruct Ashfield’s huge housing target to be reviewed as a matter of urgency. If the Council was permitted to take out every single green field site from our plans then our target would be reduced from 8,226 houses to 1,109.

"This would then stop controversial draft plans for a 3,000 house development at Whyburn Farm, Hucknall and other controversial sites.”

In order to help reach national housing targets suggested by the Conservatives pre-election, plans were drawn up to overhaul the planning process.

This would have seen a new ‘zonal’ system where permissions on sites earmarked for development would be automatically approved.

But the focus could now switch more heavily to brownfield sites.

At the last full meeting of Ashfield Council, Coun Relf said: “There is nowhere near enough brownfield sites within Ashfield to accommodate this level of house building and so it is inevitable that fields will have to be built on.

"We would love to reduce this level and if our local MPs, Lee Anderson and Mark Spencer also feel that too many fields would be lost to this plan then I would very much love to work with them on lobbying their government to reduce the dwelling targets for Ashfield. I extend this offer now, if you do not like this level of building then please join us and let us do something about it.”

A public consultation was launched around the Ashfield local plan on Monday, October 4 and it will run until November 16.

Action groups and petitions have also been started by members of the public.

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