Ashfield District Council rejects plans for ex-offenders home Forge Mill

Bestwood Village residents attended an Ashfield District Council meeting at the Kirkby headquarters to object to Forge Mill - a home for ex-offenders

Bestwood Village residents attended an Ashfield District Council meeting at the Kirkby headquarters to object to Forge Mill - a home for ex-offenders

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Cheers and applause rang out across Ashfield District Council’s chamber last night (Thursday 24 September) as the planning committee rejected an application to transform a listed building into a potential hostel for ex-offenders.

Over 50 residents from Bestwood Village descended on the council’s Kirkby headquarters to object to the proposals for Forge Mill.

The application, submitted by Oxfordshire-based Mike Pepper, of Baybe.org Ltd, has submitted several planning applications for the Mill Lane building since he acquired it in 2012.

This latest proposal was to create offices, a cafe, workshops, recreation area, car park and accommodation areas at the Grade II listed site.Some of which were being sought retrospectively.

But the controversial submission was thrown out by councillors who voted 10-1 against officers’ recommendations for approval.

“We are over the moon,” said Malcolm Boultby, who spoke at the meeting on behalf of the Millbank Place Residents’ Group.

“I can’t believe it. But we have only won the battle today - not the war.”

The objections were based on the conflictions with policies contained within the local plan including safety and conflict with nearby land.

A second application for listed building consent for renovation was deferred.

Coun Keir Morrison of Hucknall South, called the application in and also spoke at the meeting objecting to the plans.

“I feel the applicant could have consulted more with residents in what has proved to be a very controversial development,” said Coun Morrison after the meeting. “Residents should take this as a positive step and take one step at a time.”

Chairman of the committee, Coun John Knight, also voted against the proposal, stating the ‘arrogant attitude of the applicant hadn’t done him any favours’ - suggesting it was ‘always good practice to consult with the public’.

Residents are now planning to regroup and move forward.

“I want to thank everyone for their support tonight,” added Mr Boultby. “It’s important we stick together and stay determined to continue to fight this all the way.”