Controversial plans that target Hucknall as the 'dumping ground' for almost 5,000 new houses now in limbo

The controversial local plan, which uses Hucknall as a ‘dumping ground’ for almost 5,000 new homes, will NOT be scrapped at this stage, Ashfield District Council’s cabinet has decided.

By Martin Hutton
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 8:34 am
Whyburn Farm in Hucknall is controversially pinpointed for 3,000 new homes
Whyburn Farm in Hucknall is controversially pinpointed for 3,000 new homes

Instead, at a meeting this week, the authority made the decision that ‘nothing else’ will be done on it until the government responds to requests for clarity, especially around the rules surrounding building on green belt, which would have a huge impact on sites such as Whyburn Farm, which is earmarked for up to 3,000 homes.

It effectively means the plan is mothballed for the time being, but this is short of what Hucknall campaigners and some councillors from the town are demanding.

For a cross-party motion from Labour’s Coun Lauren Mitchell and Coun Kevin Rostance (Con) was on the Cabinet agenda effectively calling for the plan to be thrown out or redrawn in a chance to go “back to the drawing board”.

Ashfield District Council's cabinet announced 'nothing more' will be done on the local plan in the forseeable future

However, Ashfield Independent-led cabinet stopped short off this and, instead, acknowledged the motion and ins sentiment – along with a 7,000-name petition against the Whyburn plan specifically – and this will now be passed to the local plan working group with the details included in the full consultation.

At the meeting, councillors were told green-belt land would be lost if the council goes ahead with the plan

In total, more than 8,000 homes are proposed in the document, to be built by 2038 at a rate of 457 a year, numbers Ashfield Council says is dictated by the government. A disproportionate 5,000 of these would be in Hucknall.

Jemma Chambers, who leads the Hucknall Against Whyburn Farm Development (HAWFD) group, told councillors: “These plans affect every single resident of Hucknall.

“We need to protect the green belt and ensure the distribution of housing is equal across the district. Hucknall has already had its fair share of housing, and it seems that each week there is new development.

“It’s apparent Hucknall is the dumping ground for houses in Ashfield, taking the majority of the housing burden but none of the benefits.

“Hucknall has had enough and we cannot take any more.”

The authority confirmed at the end of last year it has paused progress on the document while it awaits clarity from Government on potential housing policy changes.

And the council hopes a potential Whitehall policy shift – which could amend housebuilding calculations and prioritise brownfield building – could see the target brought down significantly to just over 1,000 district wide that can be accommodated on brownfield (previously used) land.

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Hucknall Whyburn Farm campaigners left waiting after motion calling for plan to ...

The meeting also heard speeches from Couns Mitchell and Rostance.

Coun Mitchell said: “The current draft local plan is flawed and disproportionately, negatively affects our town.”

There was a heated exchange between the council leader, Coun Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), and Hucknall’s Coun Chris Baron (Con), during which the former threatened to close the meeting.

But when Coun Baron was allowed to speak he called on the authority to listen to the campaigners or risk ruining the council’s reputation and urged the council to “start again”.

Responding to their concerns, Coun Zadrozny said: “For us, the magic bullet is either the Government changing the standard housing methodology or making a legislative change based on political statements they have made.

“If they reduce that number we can come back and do something very different. At the moment, we’re open to any suggestion which causes the least harm to Ashfield and the district.”

But he added: “In the middle of November we took the decision to pause the plan and this does exactly what it says on the tin.

“We are doing nothing else on the local plan until the Government responds and says to us either ‘carry on and do what we’re doing’ or gives us some flexibility to do something different.”