Plans for the controversial Mowlands housing development have been withdrawn because heritage experts said that they caused ‘unjustified substantial harm’ to the Kirkby Conservation Area, Chad can reveal.
In a letter to Ashfield District Council, English Heritage said that W. Westerman’s planning application needs to be substantially reworked in order to protect the designated heritage assets in the Kirkby Cross area.
These include the Kirkby Cross scheduled monument, grade II listed buildings at 2 and 6 Church Street and the former Waggon and Horses Public House - an undesignated building which has been identified as making a positive contribution to the Conservation Area.
Westerman’s Mowlands development - which consists of a £10m western relief road, 1,800 homes and 12 hectares of employment land - was withdrawn last week because the housing company said it wanted to take more time to get the design right and ensure the Conservation Area was treated appropriately.
The plans proposed relocating Kirkby Cross from its established location, reworking the junction and demolishing the former pub, therefore changing the historic streetplan.
Access to the development was proposed to be created via Cow Pasture Lane.
But English Heritage said these proposals would cause ‘substantial harm to the significance of the Conservation Area’.
The medieval cross also cannot be subject to any works or demolition without the consent of the Secretary of State for Culture and the heritage body said it would ‘be minded to recommend refusal’ of any proposal to do this.
The experts added that there was no evidence that the cross was moved during the 20th century, as asserted in the applicant’s environmental statement.
Harm or loss to designated heritage assets requires ‘clear and convincing justification’ which English Heritage said was not given in this case,
Making his recommendation, Tim Allen, inspector of Ancient Monuments, wrote: “Your authority should invite the applicant to withdraw and substantially rework this application removing access via Cow Pasture Lane and all works within the Conservation Area, including the demolition of the former Waggon and Horses and the relocation of Kirkby Cross.
“The applicant should be encouraged to look at a scheme which works with the existing significance of the Conservation Area, brings vehicle access in elsewhere and explores the use of Cow Pasture Lane for pedestrian and cycle use, alongside the sensitive renovation and reuse of the former Waggon and Horses, all with a view to preserve and enhance the character of the Conservation Area.”
Westerman’s planning consultant for the scheme, Ben Holmes, confirmed that the company is working with English Heritage in order to rectify these issues.
He said: “This is an important issue to get right. We want to be able to spend time exploring all the options to provide Kirkby with the right treatment of this area.
“There are a number of design solutions being put forward and it will take time for us to determine which of those is the best. Once we have a solution that satisfies all parties, we will resubmit our planning application for consideration.”
An English Heritage spokesperson added: “English Heritage is very willing to provide further pre-application advice to the developer on any revised proposals.”
A KARA (Kirkby Area Residents’ Association) meeting to update local people on the latest news about the Mowlands development is being held on Tuesday 29th April at Bentinck Miners’ Welfare at 7.30pm.