A council says financial problems leave it with “little choice” but to find new ways of making money – including selling off land for potential housing.
Gedling Borough Council relaunched a public consultation in August about plans to dispose of land off Killisick Lane, Arnold.
The land was previously the subject of a similar consultation in 2022 before residents spoke in numbers to tell the authority they wanted it protected.
However, the Labour-led council reopened talks over reusing the open space as neighbouring landowners plan land sales for separate housing plans.
Separate plans have already been put forward on nearby plots – including between Brookfields Garden Centre and Mellish Rugby Club, on Mapperley Plains.
The Labour-led council adds a new planning application for separate land is expected “imminently” by a developer, affecting its own plans for the Killisick Lane land.
It says this meant it had to “act quickly” and relaunch the consultation – which ran from August 4 to August 18 – despite previously being told not to use the land for housing.
Speaking during the full council meeting on Wednesday (September 20), Cllr John Clarke (Lab), the authority’s leader, said: “We thought it only right to go back to the people to let them have their say.”
His comments came after a question was posed by Claire Richards, a local resident involved with the Friends of Hobbucks Nature Reserve group.
This protected nature reserve sits close to the land at Killisick Lane and residents previously feared it could be put at risk by housing plans.
Ms Richards asked: “Despite the commitment from Gedling Borough Council just last year not to sell the land, why has the sale of this land been brought back to the table?
“A consultation took place over the school summer holiday period with just two weeks for residents to respond.”
Responding, Cllr Clarke said the authority “listened to the views” of residents last year but confirmed “a number of things have changed” since the 2022 decision.
This included new housing plans for nearby fields which meant action was needed by the council this summer.
Cllr Clarke said: “We needed to move quickly during the summer to secure a more comprehensive form of development on the wider housing allocation.
“If it’s possible to secure a more comprehensive form of development, the Hobbucks Nature Reserve would not only be preserved but could be improved and extended.
“This, I’m sure, is something local residents who use that area would welcome.”
He also said the Hobbucks Nature Reserve was designated as a local nature reserve in March 2015, protecting it from development.
And he said the council needs to take steps to generate extra income from the land due to funding issues from the Government.
He added: “We have continued to receive [consultation] responses since [it closed] and these will be taken into consideration when decisions in relation to the land are made.
“We are one of the worst-affected councils in the country in terms of Government funding and we’re being left with little choice but to look at ways to generate income so we can continue to provide our services.”
Cllr Helen Greensmith (Con), who represents the Dumbles ward, raised concerns about the plans in a later discussion about council scrutiny.
She said: “May I remind councillors there was a consultation prior to the borough council elections [in May].
“Labour made promises not to sell this land as many residents were against it. I can only assume this was to win votes.
“Now they’ve done a complete U-turn on this matter by starting the new consultation on selling it off to a developer.”