Tuesday 16 July 2024
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87-home plan for part of school grounds rejected for sixth time

Plans for 87 homes on part of the grounds of a Nottinghamshire school site have been rejected for a sixth time.

Newark and Sherwood District Council planners have again thrown out the plans for parts of Highfields School, in London Road, Balderton.

Avant Homes submitted the proposals for a sixth time, having five times previously had its plans rejected for larger numbers of properties.

The housebuilder initially asked for 117 homes, then 99, 95, 91 and 89 before submitting the recent 87-home scheme.

The site includes more than 15 hectares – or 37 acres – of flat land, including part of the school’s grounds including the car park.

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Land to the west of this where two existing sports pitches are located was also included in the latest plans.

But council officers again recommended refusal because of the impact they may have on 50 trees protected by an existing Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

The land has also not been included in long-term housing strategies because the council is able to demonstrate a “healthy” seven-year housing supply.

And in a meeting on Thursday (August 10), the council’s planning department told councillors the plans pose “significant harm” to the area.

This included the loss of sporting facilities at Highfields School, which led to an objection from Sport England.

This requested a new multi-use games area elsewhere at the site.

The Sport England objection led to Avant Homes setting out a mitigation package to bring forward improvements to existing facilities at the school.

It included improvement works to the school’s existing games area, including a five-metre extension, as well as floodlighting.

However, some councillors said they could not support the plans because of the impact it would have on the school grounds and on the 50 trees.

Cllr Adrian Amer (Ind), who represents the Castle ward, said: “We need more urban trees in Newark by a long way.

“These are mature trees, their biodiversity is very significant in relation to their loss and the mitigation would only occur in 20 or 30 years’ time.

“I think the possibility of reducing the density [of houses] to perhaps half of what this is might require fewer trees to be considered at risk.

“But really, in the position it’s in, those trees are very significant and would be a great loss.”

Cllr Sue Saddington, who represents Muskham, said: “Highfields has always acted as the boundary between Newark and Balderton.

“With that has been the trees. That has always been looked upon as the division and [this number] of houses is a ridiculous suggestion to make.

“It’s a quart in a pint pot, as far as I’m concerned. It’s a ridiculous application.”

And Cllr Linda Dales (Con), who represents Collingham, added: “We can demonstrate a seven-year housing supply and it’s not an allocated site.

“I can find no reason to disagree with officer recommendations [to refuse].”

Other concerns which contributed to the refusal – voted through unanimously – included highways and a loss of playing facilities.

Avant Homes, the applicant, did not speak in the meeting on its plans.

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