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Plans for 87 new homes on school land could be refused for sixth time

A scheme for 87 new homes in Nottinghamshire is expected to be rejected for the sixth time after “much local opposition” and concerns over a severe impact on the environment.

The site is made up of more than 15 hectares of flat land at Highfields School on the north side of London Road, Balderton.

Avant Homes has submitted plans for the sixth time, having been refused on every occasion beforehand.

The latest application is for 87 homes after the developer attempted to reduce the number on five occasions from an initial 117 to 99, 95, 91 and 89.

Pre-application advice was also sought on a proposal for 94 homes in August 2020.

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The site area has been extended since the previous applications to include parts of the school’s grounds, including the car park and land to the west where two existing sports pitches are located.

Newark and Sherwood District Council’s planning officers have recommended it to be refused again though, citing a number of issues including that the site contains 50 trees protected by Tree Preservation Order.

The site has not been allocated for housing to help the council meet its housing needs because, at present, it has “a healthy seven-year housing supply” against a requirement of five years.

While council officers agree the revised scheme has positives, including provision for open space for residents and affordable housing, “significant harm has been identified which weighs against the scheme”.

The temporary and permanent loss of sporting facilities at Highfields School has led to an objection from Sport England, which will only lift the objection if a range of mitigation measures are secured to maintain the multi-use games area (MUGA).

In response, Avant Homes set out a mitigation package which looks to facilitate a number of improvement works to existing sports facilities
at the school.

Improvement works are proposed to the existing multi-use games area, including a 5m extension, plus the addition of floodlighting to allow for extended use.

However, planning documents say: “There are conflicts identified between the living conditions of occupiers of some of the affordable housing and the impacts that would likely arise from unpredictable noise and disturbance due to having the extended multi-use games areas (MUGA) so close to their rear gardens.

“There is potential for adverse impacts from unpredictable noise associated with the MUGA use into the evening and at weekends when nearby occupiers might reasonably expect tranquillity.”

An access road from London Road would also need to be built, and this would lead to the loss of a playing pitch at the front of the school.

Nottinghamshire County Council’s Highways Authority has also advised the scheme “would result in severe adverse impacts at morning peak from junctions in the area that would be over capacity as a result of this development.”

Some first-floor rooms are noted to be below the standard size for a bedroom.

Planning documents say: “The proposal which involves the loss of many
mature and high-quality trees, some of which are protected, causes significant harm to the environment and to the character and appearance of the area.

“This application fails to properly compensate for this tree loss due to an insufficient quantum of appropriate trees in appropriate places, not close to where they would be felled.

“In the opinion of the Local Planning Authority, the proposal at the point of determination fails to provide appropriate mitigation for the impacts of the development upon infrastructure such as primary education, public transport, health, libraries, community facilities as well as the provision of affordable
housing and off site ecology mitigation.”

The plans will be discussed during a planning committee meeting on Thursday, August 10.

•  84 new homes approved for former Nottinghamshire allotment site

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