CONTROVERSIAL plans to build 1,700 homes on the outskirts of Mansfield moved a step closer yesterday but those opposing the scheme say they are still determined to fight it.
The Lindhurst development on land off the A617 Marr Route between Southwell Road West and Nottingham Road, could create thousands of jobs, new businesses, schools and doctors surgeries.
But residents and councillors believe the environmental impact of the scheme will kill off local wildlife and the green views once enjoyed from their homes will be lost.
Nottinghamshire County Council’s finance and property committee met yesterday and gave delegated authority to officers to go ahead and complete the necessary legal documents and paperwork.
In July 2011, Mansfield District Council reached a resolution to grant planning permission, subject to a Section 106 agreement being signed.
The authority had referred it to the Government because of the development’s size, but the secretary of state said he would not be stepping in.
The recommendations by the county council’s finance and property committee mean development could start early next year but those opposing the plans have 13 weeks to launch a legal challenge once the Section 106 agreement has been signed.
Stephen Garner, environmental campaigner and county councillor for Mansfield South, thinks the legal costs to fight the scheme will be about £20,000.
He said: “People are still strongly against the scheme, but we will have to wait and see if they are prepared to pay to fight it. It’s time to put up or shut up. If we can get 400 people willing to contribute £50 each then that’s job done. If we only get two people that’s £10,000 each. We’ve got a strong environmental case and people in Berry Hill don’t want this development in their back-yards.”
Councillor Reg Adair, chairman of the finance and property committee, said: “Over a number of years a huge amount of hard work by all the partners has gone into bringing the Lindhurst scheme forward. Finalising the Developers Collaboration Agreement, Section 106 Agreement and Project Implementation plan should mean the final, significant obstacles have been negotiated and the way will be clear for work to start.”
Coun Kate Allsop, district council portfolio holder for economic regeneration, has backed the scheme from day one. She said: “We’ve got a regeneration route built to bring jobs in to this area. There’s nothing more important to a town than having these things that draw people in.
“Looking to the future of a town that’s growing I want to see quality jobs and quality housing.”
Coun Garner is arranging a meeting with residents.
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AN ENVIRONMENTAL campaigner who has been advising those in opposition of the Lindhurst scheme believes it’s still ‘all to play for’ in the fight against it.
Shlomo Dowen, chairman of the Mansfield and Ashfield Wildlife Group, has been working closely with Coun Stephen Garner who wants to build a legal challenge.
Despite Mansfield District Council’s planning committee agreeing in principle to press forward with the scheme in July 2011, Mr Dowen insists it is not too late for them to re-think their recommendations.
Mr Dowen claims the planning committee were not told about Natural England’s concerns over the scheme.
The presence of Nightjar and Woodlark birds could still result in the area gaining Special Protection Area (SPA) status.
Natural England are unhappy with a proposed ‘cat wall’ which is meant to protect wildlife in nearby Harlow Wood.
Mr Dowen says a similar housing scheme is Dorset was not given permission due to similar concerns.
Also, the Lindhurst plans stated green, recreational space would be available at Berry Hill Park, but that area is now under threat of housing.
He thinks the Lindhurst developers should at least consider building fewer homes to free up some recreational space.
Mr Dowen said: “It’s not too late, there’s still all to play for.
“Mansfield District Council’s position was that Natural England had no objection, but in fact Natural England said they couldn’t support the proposal.
“This new evidence could take the matter back to the planning committee.
“There are potential grounds for a judicial review but legal actions are expensive. It’s up to the local community to see if there’s enough strength of feeling. If enough money is raised then the challenge can go ahead.
“Things are still in the balance - more so than the developers would like to believe.”
Martyn Saxton, head of planning and regulatory services at Mansfield District Council, said: “In July 2011 there was a resolution to grant outline planning permission, subject to a Section 106 agreement being signed. The Section 106 has not yet been signed and planning permission has not been granted. Issues have since been raised about environmental matters and these are being looked into.”