Hucknall county councillors officially object to new £15.7m Top Wighay offices plans

Hucknall’s trio of Nottinghamshire county councillors have officially submitted their objections to the authority’s plans to build a £15.7 million flagship office block at the new Top Wighay Farm development at Linby.

Monday, 27th June 2022, 8:38 pm

The plans submitted to the council are for ‘construction of an office building with car parking, landscaping and associated works, access and drainage infrastructure including a new highway from A611 signalised junction’.

The plans are part of the huge new £25 million sustainable village project that will see 805 new homes and a primary school built at Top Wighay Farm.

Couns Dave Shaw, Lee Waters and John Wilmott (all Ash Ind), claim that the application is ‘clouded in uncertainty’ and that it is ‘impossible to assess the impact on highways due to the county council still not being able to tell us how many staff and indeed services which will be moving there’.

Couns Lee Waters (left) and Dave Shaw, along with fellow Hucknall councillor John Wilmott, have formally objected to the county council's plans to build new offices at Top Wighay Farm

Coun Waters, speaking on behalf of the Hucknall councillors, said, “We’ve exhausted the political arguments.

“We said that the £15.7 million should be spent fixing our broken roads and pavements but the Conservatives at County Hall would rather spend the money on an expensive office block we don’t need.

"Due to rising inflation, this £15.7 million could well go over budget and go over the £20 million mark.

"We now have the unedifying situation where Conservatives at County Hall ask themselves for planning permission.

An artist's impression of the what the new £15.7m council offices at Top Wighay Farm will look like

"They’ve even restricted the consultation to an electronic one meaning many impacted in Hucknall won’t even get the chance to object despite massive concerns.

“Despite several attempts to find out – the county council is still no clearer on how many staff and departments will be moving to the new office.

"There’s no evidence on any discussion with trade unions and yet they claim the impact on highways in Hucknall will be minimal.

"They are also putting workers safety at risk by refusing to install a formal pedestrian crossing point on the access road dual carriageway between the bus layby and the roundabout, to save money.

"We’ve been against this office block, that we don’t need, from day one.

"It’s too far away from Hucknall Station and there are no plans to improve public transport in the application at all.

"We will be making these and our other objections at a future planning and rights of way committee.

"Hucknall deserves better than guess work in what many view as an expensive done deal.”

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Matthew Neal, investment director at the council, said: “As part of the statutory planning process, we’ve welcomed feedback on proposals from partners and the community for the new office building at Top Wighay.

“This is due to house front-line services such as social services, which are currently based in leased office space which we are paying out for in rent.

“It also plans to provide new, flexible workspace and accommodation for small and medium-sized businesses as a further way to help boost the economy.

“We’ve had a range of comments from wider local community, which we are currently in discussions about and looking into as part of the usual planning consultation process.

“Our planning and rights of way committee is due to make a final decision on planning permission for the new offices in the coming weeks*

“We appreciate there are concerns about the potential impact on traffic, so as part of any infrastructure project, our transport and highways teams will continue look at any long-term impact and continue to monitor the safety of our highways

“Footpaths, cycling routes, cycle lockers and traffic calming measures are at the heart of plans and the site is already near to an existing bus route, with new bus stops proposed.

“Completed infrastructure work at the site includes an expanded roundabout on the A611/Annesley Road, a new signal-controlled junction as well as a new, three-metre wide, shared use footway and cycle lane along the northern side of the A611 north of Hucknall and to the west of Linby.

"This work has already help limit the impact of traffic on nearby towns and villages.”

Coun Keith Girling (Con), portfolio holder for economic development and asset management, added: “I find it incredulous that in public the Ashfield Independents protest about the application yet do not mention this in their official response.

“The council (Ashfield District Council) raises no objection to the proposed development in principle, and is pleased to see features being installed to encourage the use of more sustainable modes of transport.

"It is noted that there will be space for up to 40 cycles to be securely locked within a cycle store.

"A number of electric vehicle (EV) charge points are also proposed to be installed – 10 EV charging spaces within the staff car park, and a total of three within the visitors car park (which includes one EV disabled parking space).”

"Yet again the Ashfield Independents say one thing to the public but betray them behind their backs, there’s no objections and I have concrete evidence to substantiate my statement.

“This is all part of our wider plan to bring long-term savings for taxpayers by creating more carbon-neutral, fit for purpose council buildings, generating income by leasing space within buildings, and co-locating with other public organisations.

We’ve reduced our estate by almost half and the overall impact of this is that it will SAVE money, not cost money.

We have made a clear pledge to help meet the UK’s carbon-neutral targets by 2030 so it’s vital we invest now to make our buildings more energy-efficient, such the site Top Wighay, which aims to be a carbon- neutral as possible.”