Hucknall Whyburn Farm: Motion against proposals to to build 3,000 homes on green belt will not be debated by council

Campaigners against controversial proposals to build 3,000 new homes on Hucknall green belt at Whyburn Farm have been dealt the frustrating news that their key motion will NOT be debated as hoped today (Thursday) by Ashfield District Council.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 12:49 pm

Instead, the motion is to be referred to the council’s cabinet and not be debated until January.

Many campaigners will still be at the meeting this afternoon though, as the group’s petition containing more than 7,600 signatures, which was handed in to the council last month, will still be debated, albeit for limited time.

The motion, put forward by Coun Lauren Mitchell (Lab), who represents Hucknall South, calls for the council to amend, and potentially replace, its current draft plan in relation to proposals for the housing on green belt in the face of strong public opposition from the people of Hucknall.

A motion calling for changes to the draft local plan to protect Hucknall green belt will not now be debated by Ashfield District Council today

It was on the agenda for this afternoon’s full council meeting which many campaigners were planning to attend.

But meeting papers from council officers, seen by the Dispatch, reveal that there will be no debate.

The papers say: “A motion relating to the local plan has been summitted to council and appears on the agenda.

"The cabinet and the council share the responsibility for decision-taking regarding the local plan – the cabinet is responsible for the preparation of the local plan and the council is responsible for approving the local plan for submission to the Secretary of State for examination and the adoption of the local plan (article four of the Local Authorities (Functions and Responsibilities) (England) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/2853)).

"The council has no current role in relation to the formulation of the draft local plan nor the consideration of the consultation responses to the current Regulation 18 draft of the local plan.

"This means that the motion proposed regarding the draft local plan will be moved and seconded, be referred to the cabinet (in consultation with the local plan steering group) without debate or amendment pursuant to rule 14.4 of the council procedure rules.

“Assuming the motion is moved and seconded as set out in the council agenda, it is anticipated that the mover and seconder of the motion will be asked to attend the cabinet on January 25, 2022 to put their motion and for the cabinet to then debate it.

"External legal advice was obtained to confirm advice in relation to the legalities of the motion and the constitutional procedures.”

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But while Coun Mitchell’s motion will not be debated, there will still be debate on the petition, although it will be limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.

The Whyburn petition is one of two being presented at the meeting.

Papers say: “The petition organisers have been invited to the council meeting and they will present their petitions to the chairman of the council/chief executive officer.

"Both petitions have over 1,500 signatures and as such will be debated at council and each petition will be dealt with separately, in line with the petition scheme and the constitution (Rule 12).

“The petition organiser has up to five minutes to address the council.

“The council will then discuss the petitions for up to a total of 15 minutes

"The council, at the end of the discussion, will resolve how to deal with the petition (this requires a motion to be moved and seconded and voted upon).”

The draft plan itself has been paused since the first round of public consulations ended on November 16 while the council says it awaits clarification from the Government following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s comments at the Conservative Party Conference about not forcing councils to build on green belt.