Hucknall campaigners call on council to work with them to find solution to controversial green-belt housing plans in town

A campaigner calling for Ashfield District Council’s ‘controversial’ draft local plan to be scrapped says her group wants to work with the authority to find a ‘sensible, community-driven’ alternative.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 10:35 am

Thousands of residents across Ashfield have come together on social media and in petitions to oppose the council’s local plan, which sets out proposals to build 8,226 homes by 2038.

One of the more controversial elements is a 3,000-home settlement in Whyburn Farm in Hucknall, including a primary school and GP surgery on a large, greenbelt site.

Residents united for a public meeting on Saturday, October 16, with hundreds in attendance to speak out against the plan.

Jemma Chambers wants the council to work with her and other campaigners to help save Whyburn Farm greenbelt from having 3,000 houses built on it

Concerns were raised over the impact on wildlife, people’s mental health, the loss of the large open space and its wider impact on Hucknall’s existing services.

A petition with almost 2,500 signatures is currently running on the council’s website, while more than 3,800 people are members of an online Facebook group.

One of the leading campaigners is 39-year-old Jemma Chambers, who lives next to the greenbelt site and believes the plans would be detrimental to her town.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, she says her campaign won’t stop until the council ‘sees sense’ over the proposals.

She said: “Nobody wants a site of 3,000 houses.

“I think that’s the biggest point to make because it’s not additional housing but a brand new settlement.

“People would be happier with a few smaller settlements that don’t encroach on one town.

“We’re not saying don’t build, we get it, we understand we need to build houses.

“But why does it need to be on one greenbelt site in Hucknall, when you consider the thousands of sites already shouldered here?”

A motion will be lodged to full council in December calling for the plan to be scrapped altogether, tabled by Hucknall Labour councillor Lauren Mitchell.

She is seeking cross-party support for the motion.

Campaigner Jemma added: “If the motion goes through, we want to work with the council to say ‘where does this leave us?’

“We still need housing, but let’s have a sensible, community-driven plan everybody can be accepting of.

“If we don’t win and the plan continues then we carry on and campaign for the council to see sense.”

Coun Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), leader of the council, described the plans as ‘controversial’ when they were first revealed last month.

He is blaming the Government for setting the 8,226-home target, equating to 457 homes per year by 2038, and says there is little alternative other than building on greenfield sites.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The difficult thing is to come up with an alternative – where do you find those 3,000 somewhere else?

“If you bang 500 houses here and there, it doesn’t trigger more infrastructure and you don’t get extra schools, doctors or dentists, and it puts incredible pressure on other services.

“The Government is saying that’s not sustainable anymore.

"There’s no space big enough to trigger all this, where the developer is on board, other than Whyburn Farm.

“I really would welcome some alternative solutions.”

The ongoing consultation will run until December before a further public consultation is launched in March 2022.

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