Video: Deadline looms for housing objections in Kirkby

Objectors to controversial plans to build a large housing development to the west of Kirkby have just days to register their concerns with Ashfield District Council.

More than 100 residents packed a meeting of Kirkby Residents Association (KARA) on Tuesday to make their views felt about the planning application submitted to Ashfield District Council (ADC) by Westerman homes.

Mike Slack, chairman of Kirkby Area Residents' Association

Mike Slack, chairman of Kirkby Area Residents' Association

The outline planning application for the Mowlands scheme consists of 1,800 homes, 12 hectares of employment land, a new access for Ashfield School and extensive community park and a relief road.

KARA chairman Mike Slack told the meeting at the Bentinck Miners’ Welfare that all letters of objection must be sent to the authority by February 16.

Mr Slack said: “The KARA is putting a document into the council on behalf of residents but it is essential that everybody puts their own objection in as well.”

Residents are worried that the Mowlands scheme will cause an increase in traffic and congestion, the loss of agricultural land and affect the Kirkby Cross conservation area.

Mike Slack added:“The traffic infrastructure would be completely gridlocked. It is now, but it will be even worse coming into the Church Street and Chapel Street.”

Committee members Amber Butler and Simon Blackburn, outlined the KARA’s case for opposing the plans and handed out model objection letters.

Amber Butler questioned whether the local hospital would be able to cope with the expected influx of new patients if the development went ahead. Among her concerns were concerns about noise and air pollution, Simon Blackburn said that the scheme did not fit into the council’s own Local Plan submitted to the Government in 2012.

He said; “The preferred option in the Local Plan said land to the west of Kirkby was clearly not for development, but should be used to support rural communities and bring back agriculture and countryside use to Kirkby.”

He said sites have been identified at gateways to the town centre which would increase prosperity and inclusion within the area. The Westerman development would create a separate commuter town.

He added: ”This is probably the biggest issue in Ashfield and certainly Kirkby in the last 50 years. If the council approves it, people will have no right of challenge.”

Westerman claims that the £200m scheme will create 1,000 permanent jobs giving the local economy a much-needed boost.

Following a recent consultation, Richard Bowden, project coordinator, said: “We were pleased with the level of local support. We know the western relief road will relieve traffic congestion in a way that no other development or Local Plan site allocation on the table around Kirkby can. We know the level of investment we are able to bring will benefit the town in a way smaller sites cannot.”

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