Hucknall Labour councillors and campaigners not convinced by claims Whyburn Farm green belt is 'saved'

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Hucknall Labour councillors and Whyburn Farm campaigners have greeted the news that the green belt site is to be saved from having 3,000 homes built on it with a cool response.

The ruling Ashfield Independents at Ashfield District Council have said that the controversial proposals in their draft local plan that included 3,000 homes at Whyburn Farm as part of 8,000 overall across Hucknall, are now set to be dropped as they want to cut 3,000 houses from the target with Whyburn the only site that was earmarked for that many.

But Hucknall’s two Labour councillors, Coun Lauren Mitchell and Coun Keir Morrison, who both represent Hucknall South, are unconvinced.

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Coun Mitchell said: “I really hope that Whyburn Farm is no longer at risk, but something doesn’t feel right about this.

Coun Mitchell said something 'didn't feel right about this'Coun Mitchell said something 'didn't feel right about this'
Coun Mitchell said something 'didn't feel right about this'

"Why couldn’t they have done this earlier? What changed? Why now?

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"I can’t help but feel that it’s because a by-election is likely to be called in Hucknall within the next couple of months.

"And what about other areas at risk in Hucknall such as the plan to extend Abbey Fields in Hucknall South?

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"We need a guarantee that Hucknall’s green belt won’t be destroyed, and this isn’t it.”

And commenting on the Dispatch Facebook page, Coun Morrison said: “Another PR stunt by the Ashfield Independents this side of May’s 2023 district council election.

"Whyburn Farm allegedly ‘saved’ by the very political party that planned to build on it – don’t expect this to go away.”

Meanwhile, Whyburn campaigner John Wilkinson, while giving the news a cautious welcome, said it raised more questions than it answered.

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And he also questioned the notion of the next stage of consultation in which the Independents say public comments will be sent straight to the Government rather than to the council.

He said: “It is is fantastic that the green belt could be saved but this whole consultation process they are talking about is very strange.

"Firstly, it bypasses the democratic process.

“Secondly, they could have done this months ago.

"Thirdly, if they are consulting the same people, is there an additional cost?

"The next question is how does this fit into a timetable that is already behind schedule?

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"And lastly, the question would be does this mean that the 2002 local plan is still the adopted plan, allowing developers to take advantage of any delay?

"To me, this throws up more questions than answers and I want it all to be true, but this makes me feel very nervous that this whole thing reeks a bit of just kicking it down the road.”