Wednesday 21 February 2024
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Council refuses 100-home plan on ‘green and pleasant’ greenbelt

Plans to build 100 homes on cherished Hucknall Greenbelt land have been unanimously refused by councillors.

Ashfield District Council’s planning committee voted down the plans on Wednesday (June 14) for Common Lane, known locally as part of the ‘Misk Hills’.

Aldergate Properties Ltd put forward the proposals last year during ongoing uncertainty over the council’s draft local housing plan.

The developer wants permission to build up to 100 homes on part of Leivers’ Hill, with access planned off Common Lane.

The company also owns neighbouring land including Beacon Hill, Long Hill and other sections of Leivers’ Hill, up to the site’s boundary with Whyburn Lane.

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If approved, the developer said its current application would have featured a “mix of dwelling types” to offer a “high-quality residential development”.

However, the authority rejected the plan over concerns about its impact on the greenbelt.

The committee heard 87 public objections were lodged during a consultation, including concerns over highways and the impact on “over-capacity” local services.

Other concerns included the impact on the greenbelt and open countryside and problems with traffic around the area.

The meeting also heard from Colin Alton, a resident of Common Lane since 1980, who called on councillors to refuse the plans.

In the meeting, he said: “The Misk Hills and surrounding areas are Hucknall’s ‘green and pleasant land’.

“Recognised and registered greenbelt, this rural setting accommodates many species of wildlife and fauna, it’s actually an amazing landscape and people have embraced the openness of this site for generations.

“The applicant’s proposal to build 100 homes on this elevated greenbelt land will have a major impact on the landscape. It will destroy the current rural setting, leaving a visual scar.

“It will affect the openness of the site and be overbearing, particularly on the houses along Common Lane.”

Cllr Dave Shaw (Ash Ind), who represents Hucknall West, called in the application for discussion and also spoke in the meeting to raise concerns.

He said: “The application does not demonstrate exceptional circumstances to build on greenbelt land.

“This site is close to the fabled Misk Hills, which is subject to one of Lord Byron’s most famous poems ‘The Annesley Hills’ and in D.H. Lawrence’s ‘Sons and Lovers’.

“I believe this application is environmental vandalism to the area, it will result in the loss of greenbelt and the loss of local amenities enjoyed by local wildlife lovers.”

The meeting heard applicant Aldergate had told the council it should back its plans due to the authority’s current lack of a long-term housing plan.

The Ashfield Independent-led council is currently publishing an amended housing strategy following separate objections over its impact on Hucknall’s greenbelt at Whyburn Farm.

The authority is also currently failing to demonstrate a five-year supply of new housing and the developer said there are “unresolved questions” about future new homes in the district.

However, Christine Sarris, the council’s assistant director for planning, said these points still did not demonstrate “exceptional circumstances” for building new homes on greenbelt land.

She recommended refusal of the development and told councillors: “The development will have an urbanising impact on the greenbelt in this location, impacting upon its localness.

“It would have a greater impact on the sprawl of the settlement and scores high on failing to safeguard the countryside from encroachment.

“On balance, it is considered there would be detrimental harm to the greenbelt and the encroachment onto the countryside from this location would be significant.

“It would outweigh the benefits of the development and, as such, the refusal of planning permission is recommended.”

All nine councillors voted alongside recommendations to refuse the plans.

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