‘Kirkby could change forever’

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The face of Kirkby could change forever following the submission of plans to build two large new housing developments on the west of the town.

An application to build up to 225 new homes and community sports facilities on land off Sutton Road and King’s Mill Road East - known as the Larwood Park development - was submitted to Ashfield District Council at the end of last month.

Now a planning application for the Mowlands scheme - which consists of 1,800 homes, 12 hectares of employment land, a new access for Ashfield School, a new primary school, an extensive community park and a relief road - is to be submitted to the authority in the next few days.

If both applications were approved, it would see more than 2,000 new homes built in virtually the same area and mean that the population of the town would increase dramatically.

Residents have already expressed their concerns about the effects of such large developments at consultation events held last year.

Mike Slack, chairman of the Kirkby Area Residents’ Association (KARA), said that people are worried that the Mowlands development in particular will cause an increase in traffic and congestion, the loss of agricultural land and affect the Kirkby Cross conservation area.

“Our feelings have not altered one iota,” he said.

“We as an organisation carried out a survey in 2013 covering about 1,800 people, following the survey that Westerman Homes carried out and we got a conclusive 98 per cent of people who were against this development.”

Mr Slack said that the association will be holding a meeting in the next couple of weeks in order to put together its objections to the planning application.

He added: “We have also suggested other areas where they could put these properties that would mean they would not need this link road and there would be better access for commuters going on road and rail.”

A shortage of school places for the children of families moving onto the new estates has also been raised as a concern. A new primary school is part of the Mowlands scheme, but no new secondary school is planned.

Ashfield School headteacher Richard Vasey said: “We have been consulted about the proposals and are aware of the plans as part of the proposal is to put a new entrance into the school from the new development in order to alleviate traffic issues on Sutton Road.

“In terms of spaces, whilst we are full in all years, there is capacity within the four local secondary schools to accommodate students from the new development.”

Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero has spoken to dozens of residents about their concerns.

She said “I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve said just how important green space is to local folk in Ashfield and, as the MP, house-building is without doubt one of the biggest issues that residents get in touch with me about.

“In the past I’ve met with campaigners, including those from KARA and as I have said before it is absolutely crucial that their concerns are listened to because planning goes wrong when people get the impression that things are being imposed on them rather than working with them. I’d urge anyone who is worried about the development or has any questions to take part in the consultation process because both will undoubtedly have a major impact on Kirkby.

“Unfortunately I don’t have a vote when it comes to local planning decisions but if any residents want me to, I’ll do my best to set up a meeting with council bosses as well – that offer still stands.”

Both applications have been submitted by Westerman Homes, a Nottinghamshire-based company that employs local contractors and sub-contractors and uses local supply chains.