Plan for 3,000 houses on Hucknall green belt includes school and bid for tram extension - but council not '100% happy'

A public consultation on controversial housing plans – including a proposal for up to 3,000 new homes in Hucknall – will begin next month despite councillors not being “100 per cent happy”.

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 9:01 am
The Local Plan document includes provision for thousands of new homes

As revealed by the Dispatch, the Ashfield Independents administration at Ashfield District Council decided to move forward with the next stage of the Local Plan at its Cabinet meeting on Monday (September 20), agreeing to launch the first six-week consultation stage in October.

The plan outlines the authority’s blueprint for housing and wider development until 2038 and includes site possibilities for 8,226 homes including two major housing settlements – by far the biggest of which is suggested for green-belt land at Whyburn Farm in Hucknall, which is opposite the current 800-home development at Top Wighay Farm.

The move has already drawn heavy criticism from members of the public and Hucknall’s Labour members of Ashfield District Council, who have dubbed it ‘disastrous’.

And members of the council’s cabinet confirmed they are not entirely happy with the level of housing in the plan.They say the Government is setting too high a target for the number of houses to be built each year.

If approved, the document would allow 457 new homes to be built in the district every year until 2038. This was down from a Government target of more than 800.

Speaking at the meeting, councillors said it means putting forward a “controversial” plan which includes building on greenbelt land.

Councillor Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), leader of the council, said: “There’s no getting away from the fact this plan is controversial because some people don’t want to see changes [to their communities].

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“But I feel our cross-party working group, and the portfolio holder, have done a significant amount of work to steer this in a more positive way.

“It’s fair to say we’re not 100 per cent happy with it, but that’s why we want to make sure [the consultation] is done.

“This isn’t a plan we’re hoisting on people, we want to ask the public what they think so we can make any changes.”

The proposed Hucknall development, at Whyburn Farm, also includes employment land. Around 1,600 of the homes will be delivered by 2038.

This development includes plans for a potential extension to the tram network and a park-and-ride facility.

It also includes proposals for an on-site primary school, a local centre with retail and community facilities, and seeks contributions towards secondary education.

Sites have also been allocated for development in Hucknall, Kirkby, Sutton, Selston, Jackdale and Underwood.

Coun Matthew Relf (Ash Ind), portfolio holder for regeneration and planning, said: “We know people don’t want to see fields built on, and we feel exactly the same way.

“Our plan uses every brownfield site available, but to achieve the Government’s targets the greenfield sites have to be built on.

“The plan has at its core a strategy with these two mixed-use settlements, and will reduce the strain placed on infrastructure in our existing settlements.”

The six-week consultation will begin in October and run through until November.

The authority will issue information on its website, hold in-person events with Covid-safe measures, and display copies of the plan, documents and posters in libraries.

A second consultation is planned in March and April next year, with the document expected to be submitted to the Government in August 2022.