Hucknall MP reaffirms support for green belt campaign with 'hands off Whyburn Farm' warning to council

Hucknall MP Mark Spencer has added further support to the campaign to stop 3,000 new homes being built on green belt land at Whyburn Farm.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 11:58 am

The controversial proposals are part of Ashfield District Council’s new draft local plan, which has plans to build nearly 5,000 new homes in the town.

The council has said that Government targets are forcing it to look at building on green belt land.

But Mr Spencer (Con) says this is not the case and wrote to housing minister Chris Pincher MP (Con) seeking clarification.

Hucknall MP Mark Spencer has warned the council not to build on green belt land at Whyburn Farm

In his letter back, Mr Pincher says: ““I would like to be clear that the Government does not set local housing targets.”

He later adds: “Councils decide their own housing targets once they have taken account of local constraints (such as green belt, AONB etc) that prevent it allocating enough sites to meet need.

"Nor does the standard method dictate where homes should go.

"It is up to councils to decide what sort of homes and how many can be built where.”

Mr Spencer said: “It is clear that the Ashfield Independent-run Ashfield District Council are choosing to build on Whyburn Farm.

"No one is forcing them to, this is their choice.”

“They should listen to the overwhelming views of their residents.

"Ashfield District Council – keep your hands off of Whyburn Farm.”

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Coun Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), council leader, replied: “The minister’s letter is disingenuous in that the Government set the criteria for setting the housing targets – they just don’t press equals on the calculator.

"That said, we welcome the fact that housing secretary Michael Gove recently admitted that the calculations they force councils to make are out of date and need to be updated and reviewed.

"Once this has been done, we will review the housing targets we are being forced to set

“If Michael Gove and the housing minister are true to their promises, then Ashfield District Council won’t be forced to consider green belt land as part of our proposals.

“I’m pleased that the housing minister replied to Mr Spencer’s letter – Mr Spencer couldn’t be bothered to reply to our plea for housing targets to be reduced.

"That said, I appreciate he has been busy of late dealing with growing Conservative sleaze allegations.

"We hope that Mr Spencer will use any influence he enjoys in Government to ensure that councils are not forced to build on green belt.

"Actions speak louder than words.”

The proposals to build on green belt have been met with fierce opposition, led by the Hucknall Against Whyburn Farm Development group.

The group has more than 4,000 members and has already held public meetings and walks on the green belt land to voice their opposition to the plans.

They have also handed in petitions containing more than 7,000 signatures.