Hucknall councillors turn to Byron to voice objection to Misk Hills housing plans

Hucknall councillors from the ruling Ashfield Independents at Ashfield District Council have turned to a 217-year old poem to object to a controversial planning application.

Thursday, 30th June 2022, 3:46 pm

Hucknall councillors John Wilmott, Dave Shaw, Lee Waters, Trevor Locke and Jim Blagden included the words to Lord Byron’s famous poem 1805 love poem Hills of Annesley in their formal objection to 100 houses being built on Misk Hills – the location for the poem.

The proposals would see the houses built on land off Common Lane

They described Misk Hills as ‘a heritage asset’ and expressed concern about the lack of infrastructure, school places and access to healthcare provision.

The proposals would see houses built on Misk Hill on land off Common Lane. Photo: Google

However, this comes at a time when the council’s controversial draft local plan to build 3,000 new homes on green belt at Whyburn Farm remains on pause but on the table, despite many local people and opposition Labour and Conservative councillors voicing their objections to that and the Misk Hills plans for the same reasons of infrastructure and healthcare provision.

Labour’s Keir Morrison, who represents Hucknall South, called the Misk Hall plans ‘outrageous’ while Conservative Chris Baron, who represents Hucknall West simply said ‘not on our green belt, goodbye’.

Coun Shaw said: “As a keen historian, we felt it appropriate to republish Lord Byron’s poem to illustrate the historic value of Misk Hills in our objections.

"Developers want to chuck 100 houses on this historic site – it is offensive.

“It is something all Ashfield Independent councillors vehemently oppose and we look forward to speaking against these plans at the council’s planning committee.”

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Coun Blagden added: “Hucknall’s Ashfield Independent councillors have been very vocal about opposing any development without the appropriate infrastructure.

"We have cited gridlocked and broken roads, poor access to GPs and NHS dentists and the pressure on schools in our objection.

"The developers also comprehensively fail to demonstrate the ‘exceptional need’ to build on green belt.

"I have been a councillor on and off for more than 30 years and it’s the first time we’ve used a poem to illustrate our objections to a planning application.”

All five Ashfield Independent councillors also reaffirmed their opposition to what they described as ‘the Government-enforced draft local plan that would lead to 3,000 houses on Whyburn Farm’.

Coun Lauren Mitchell (Lab), who also represents Hucknall South, said: “I called the ridiculous Misk Hills application in to the planning committee, so I'm glad to see the Ashfield Independent councillors in Hucknall are in agreement with me that Hucknall does not want and cannot take more housing in these numbers, particularly not on our green belt.

"It's a nice touch that they're using a Byron poem, but it's a shame they don't practice what they preach.

"I didn't see any of the Ashfield Independent councillors on the Lord Byron birthday community walk earlier this year which was organised by the Hucknall Against Whyburn Farm Development group.

"The Government did not force the council to propose to build on our green belt – that was a political choice.

"That is why I'm glad that the public will now be able to see what happens at the local plan development panel discussions, despite my reservations about Ashfield Independent councillors chairing the meetings.”

Coun Baron added: “Had the Ashfield Independents had a legally enforceable local plan where potential sites were permitted, this scenario would not have arisen.

"Their priorities have been on reducing housing in Sutton and Kirkby at the expense of Hucknall, instead of a fair distribution and the use of green field sites opposed to green belt sites across the whole of the district.

“In 2018 they withdrew from the local plan and started again – leaving developers a free hand to apply wherever they wished with little consequences for local people and services.

Ashfield District Council does not have the minimum required land bank, which subsequently allows this type of application to proceed.

“The Ashfield Independents can quote Lord Byron's poem – however, it has little use in today's world as legal requirements have greater power.

“Hucknall residents understand that the not-so-independent councillors are following party lines as they have sealed the fate of Hucknall people for generations to come.

"Shame on them and a vast majority of residents will never forget."