It’s all systems go for Hucknall’s town centre regeneration plans after councillors gave the scheme the green light this week.
At a meeting of Nottinghamshire County Council’s planning committee on Tuesday, the £12 million project was given the go-ahead despite a number of concerns and objections raised by residents and Hucknall councillors.
It has been talked about, mooted and proposed countless times over six decades but the controversial and long-awaited decision over the Hucknall inner relief road scheme and pedestrianisation programme for the town centre is one step closer to becoming a reality.
“I am pleased that the planning and licensing committee was able to give the go-ahead to the Hucknall town centre improvement scheme,” said Coun Sybil Fielding, chairman of the committee at Nottinghamshire County Council. “This will provide a massive boost to businesses and shoppers.
“This is a £12m scheme, including considerable Government funding, which will revitalise the town centre, ease traffic congestion and improve links to public transport.”
Plans will see part of High Street being closed off to traffic and an inner link road between Annesley Road and Station Road being created together with a new bus-only link.
It is hoped that the plans will encourage more shoppers into the town centre and boost the local economy.
But many residents fear that the new road will only add to the flooding problems the town continues to suffer and are demanding that this scheme includes flood defence work. However the chairman moved to reassure residents.
“Before the application was submitted, lengthy discussions had taken place between the county council’s highways department and the Environment Agency, which has resulted in a number of measures being built into the scheme to ensure that it will not increase the chances of flooding in the town centre, or elsewhere in Hucknall,” added Coun Fielding.
“We were reassured that the measures would mean that the risk of future flooding would not be increased by the scheme.I know some property acquisition is still required and detailed scheme design is yet to commence, so it is likely that physical work will not start on site for around a year or so.
“This will ensure that there will be an opportunity to incorporate any findings from the flooding investigation work, due for completion next spring, in the final scheme.”
It was a repeat of the June 2007 floods in July this year affecting many areas of Hucknall that sparked a flood investigation by the county council after residents appealed for help.
One particularly vulnerable area is Thoresby Dale where one couple is yet to return to their home after their property was significantly damaged by the summer storm waters.
Thoresby Dale resident and spokesman Bill Ward, made representations at the committee meeting expressing the concerns of his neighbours over the impact the new road could have on their flooding issues.
“Well they listened to what I had to say and I just hope they take on board my comments,” said Bill. “I couldn’t tie them down to commit to putting a new pipe in the road but they have said they will consult with the relevant agencies following the results of the flooding investigation.
“The Hucknall councillors and Sherwood MP Mark Spencer are on the case and also represented the views of the residents affected which we are grateful for.”
Couns Alice Grice and John Wilkinson also spoke at the meeting asking for a deferrment to the application.
“We wanted them to wait until the flooding investigation report was published,” explained Coun Grice. “But they said that there was scope within the application for any findings to be dealt with at a later stage.
“We weren’t surprised with the outcome as the committee wanted to ensure the government funding wasn’t put at risk,” added Coun Grice. “But we will be keeping a close eye on the plans.”
Ashfield District Council leader and Hucknall councillor Chris Baron is looking forward to the scheme starting.
“It has been a very long process and the district council welcomes the news,” he said. “This can now trigger Hucknall town centre’s redevelopment and the inner relief road will enable many of the improvement schemes planned by Ashfield District Council to be proposed to enable the town to be attractive and prosperous.”