Silverhill recreation scheme hits the wall

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AMBITIOUS plans to create a community recreation area at a former colliery site in Teversal have been thrown out.

Members of Ashfield District Council’s planning committee met on Thursday to discuss proposals by voluntary group SWAN (Silverhill Wood Active Network) to convert the former colliery car park into an events arena, play trail and wetlands, with space for 60 cars and two coaches.

SWAN had wanted to landscape the site to depict a pit wheel to commemorate the area’s mining heritage and hoped to be able to hold small-scale productions.

The application had been deferred from last month’s planning committee after councillors said they needed more information on the project, including a site visit.

Coun Tony Wallis said that increased traffic and anti-social behaviour could be a problem.

“It is a very quiet area – to get more traffic up there would be a problem,” he told the meeting.

And Coun Sam Wilson raised concerns that the developers would not be able to keep the site maintained for £2,000, as they had suggested.

He said: “At this authority we have gone through the budget process and we have seen what grass cutting costs. I don’t know where they have got that figure from.”

But other councillors said the authority should approve the proposal because the applicant had removed elements of it which had previously proved controversial, such as using the site for markets.

Coun Warren Nuttall said: “This is what we have asked them to do and I am satisfied with what the answers are to this.”

Meanwhile, the decision was welcomed by some householders who had opposed the plans.

Resident Adrian Woodhouse has campaigned against the proposal because of fears it would lead to increased traffic, noise and anti-social behaviour.

He said: “I am delighted and very grateful to councillors who have seen through this application.”

But SWAN secretary Janice Ashley said that funding for Ashfield would now be lost.

“The project was recommended for approval and many of the planning committee seemed to be in support of the application so I was surprised that it wasn’t approved,” she said.

“We had recently heard that the sensory garden and trail had been successful in achieving Stage One approval for an award of £49,999 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces initiative.

“This £49,999 grant will not now be coming into our area and of course the £130,000 funding will no longer apply and may also go to another area of Nottinghamshire.

“I would think that any future costs of maintaining the site and its immediate environment will now fall back wholly upon Ashfield and Nottinghamshire County Council tax payers rather than being subsidised by volunteers.”

Speaking after the meeting, Coun Jason Zadrozny, whose Sutton North ward includes the site, said that he hoped the developers and the community could work together to find a solution that everybody was happy with.

He said that he did not want Ashfield to miss out on funding that would have been generated by the application and added: “We don’t want to lose that sort of cash.”