I read with interest County Councillor Alice Grice’s guest column - Top Wighay: We must fight to get the best deal for the town – November 4.
Whilst I agree wholeheartedly with the view that we need to ensure developer contributions go to meeting needs in the communities affected by developments, I must take issue with some other statements in the article.
Councillor Grice infers that people have been ‘shouting from the sidelines’ and ‘continuing to oppose what is already happening’. Whilst this may have been a swipe at her political opponents, who can answer for themselves, this comment denigrates the effort and energies put in by many residents and local organisations, over a long period, in opposing Gedling’s plans to include both Top Wighay and land north of Papplewick Lane as development sites.
Ashfield District Council and district councillors opposed the proposals with some vehemence, as did Linby Parish Council in whose parish both these sites sit. Ashfield District and Linby Parish, together with residents, like me, and local community organisations, attended a two week
examination in public. Along with others, we presented to the planning inspector the case against Gedling’s plans, pressing for the inclusion of brownfield sites more central to Gedling. We had some success in this, reducing potential housing numbers on local sites.
Throughout the consultation on Gedling’s plan, and during the public examination, there was no evident opposition from local county councillors. Indeed, at the public examination the county council officers submitted arguments in favour of retaining Top Wighay in the plans.
The county council is the major land owner at Top Wighay. Both Tory and Labour administrations have supported this being a strategic site for housing and employment. Can the local county councillors explain what they did to oppose the land sale and Gedling’s plans ‘at every stage’ as it is not evident to me? Correspondents to the Dispatch in 2014 asked local county councillors the question as to their opposition to the land sale but there was no reply.
The county will receive a significant capital sum from the sale of the land. Will any of that capital receipt be invested locally to help mitigate the impact of the development?
I am pleased to see that councils appear to be co-operating over plans for developer contributions. To avoid us having to ‘shout from the sidelines,’ I trust there will be some consultation with local people over priority needs I note that Linby Parish Council, whose parish includes Top Wighay, have not been included in the discussions held to date. They could be eligible for a share of developer contributions when they adopt their Neighbourhood Plan. They have been consulting residents on key issues. So they need to be involved too.