Skegby residents 'will not be bullied' over Beck Lane development for 325 houses

Councillor Anthony Brewer and Melanie Darrington at Beck Lane.
Councillor Anthony Brewer and Melanie Darrington at Beck Lane.

Skegby residents have said they will ‘not be bullied by developers’, after objecting to plans for 325 houses on Beck Lane.

Developer Lovel Developments submitted an outline planning application for 325 houses, which residents say is ‘inappropriate.’

Melanie Darrington, who lives on Bythorn Close chaired a meeting of 100 residents to discuss how the Skegby community were going to object to the plans.

She said: “There are so many reasons as to why building 325 extra houses are inappropriate for Skegby.

“This includes our roads being already grid-locked and our schools simply couldn’t accommodate the dozens of extra pupils.

“The potential developers have tried to confuse residents by appealing to the Planning Inspectorate and putting in a near, identical application to Ashfield District Council.

“The meeting showed that residents will not lie down and let developers ruin our green spaces without a fight.”

Councillor Anthony Brewer, Vice-Chairman of Ashfield District Council and Skegby Councillor said, “Over 300 blank objection letters were handed out on the night.

"Hundreds more have subsequently been printed as residents mobilise against the developers.

"We simply couldn’t have sat back and let this happen.

"It’s completely inappropriate and the attendance at the meeting showed that residents are fighting back again.

"Put simply: This excessive application for hundreds of houses on a flood plain – populated by Japanese Knotweed is not right.

"It would cause chaos in Skegby and I am pleased that the community is once again joining as a team to oppose this.”

Lovel Homes have appealed to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol, in a move that residents feel is taking any decisions out of Councillor’s hands.

Philp Lovel, managing director of Lovel Developments said that there is a need for this development, and that concerns about infrastructure had been addressed

He said: “As shown in the report of the planning officers to the Committee, there is a clear need for more housing and amenities in the area, and this development would help to address that.

“It is unfair to suggest that we are trying to take the matter out of the Council’s hands.

“It has been in their hands for more than two years.

“We just wanted to get them to consider the application and we took the legitimate route of an appeal because there is a need for more housing and this is an appropriate development.

"The original application was submitted in September 2016 but was never considered by the Planning Committee.

"Lovel felt it necessary to appeal against the non-determination of the application because of the delay and because we were aware that the planning officers were in favour of the development.

"So the appeal was lodged in October 2018, before the Planning Committee considered the application, because they took too long.

"The evidence in favour of the application is overwhelming.

"Key points from the report include:

Under the National Planning Policy Framework, the Council is required to identify a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

"As of 31 March 2018, Ashfield Council had less than four years supply.

"The site is not in a protected area.

"There is adequate provision for affordable housing.

"There are no heritage or environmental objections.

"The Environment Agency had no concerns about flooding or anything else.

"There is no evidence of protected species and the farmland is said to be of low ecological value.

"The hedgerows, which are of greater value, are largely being retained.

"Nottinghamshire County Council raised questions about highways and schools but, as the recent Planning Committee meeting heard, these have now been addressed.

"The planning officers’ report to the Planning Committee acknowledges that the development of larger sites allows for delivery of greater community benefits.

"In this particular case those benefits are recognised within the report as including highway safety measures, educational improvements, health improvements, public realm improvements, affordable housing, the opportunity to design out crime, energy efficiency and provision of high-quality public space.

"The report of the officers is comprehensive and thorough and, even before the agreements reached with the County Council, it indicated approval of the scheme by

the planning officers.

"They advised: “The Council would be able to secure the community benefits required to outweigh any adverse impacts of the development.

"It is therefore suggested that the planning inspector be informed that the planning application would have been approved planning permission by the Council.”

"As Lovel (East Midlands) Ltd has lodged an appeal against non-determination of the application, members of the Planning Committee had to decide on the view they

would have taken had they considered the proposals.

"That view would then inform the Council’s case for the appeal process.

"The minutes of their meeting on 14 November 2018 show members were advised that two additional letters of objection had been received, but that these raised no

new issues.

"Nottinghamshire County Council had identified options for expanding local primary schools and had also agreed that solutions can be found to any highways issues.

"The committee said it would have refused planning permission because of concerns regarding the sustainability of the site due to its distance from community facilities and amenities, lack of accessibility to public transport links and availability of local primary school places and concerns about highway safety and capacity.

"It is unfair to suggest that we are trying to take the matter out of the Council’s hands.

"It has been in their hands for more than two years.

"We just wanted to get them to consider the application and we took the legitimate route of an appeal against non- determination because there is a need for more housing and this is an appropriate development.

"As the Committee indicated it would have refused the application, the matter can now proceed to an appeal hearing.

"However, because of the delay we have submitted a second planning application which is identical to the first. If that progresses quickly and is approved, in line with the advice from the planning officers and the various indications of support within their report, we will be in a position to withdraw the first application and the appeal.

"We are confident that the appeal will succeed if it goes ahead and we will be making an application to recover our costs, which are not insignificant.

"We are only in this position because of the Planning Committee’s delay in considering an application, which was recommended for approval by their planning officers and which is

recognised as making a contribution to meeting housing need in Sutton in Ashfield."

For the Ashfield District Council application residents can email: r.steel@ashfield.gov.uk by Thursday, November 29th quoting reference V/2018/0713

For the Planning Inspectorate appeal, residents can email: Room 3/J, Temple Quay House, 2, The Square, Bristol, BS1 6PN quoting reference APP/W3005/W/18/3213342