Residents say plans for ‘whole new town’ on green belt will be ‘breaking point’

Residents opposing plans for “a whole new town” to be built on green belt land have said it will push the area to a “breaking point”.

The draft local plan for Ashfield has proposed that a new development which will bring 3000 extra houses be built on Hucknall’s Green Belt at Whyburn Farm.

But the plans have provoked locals to organise in their thousands against the plans, which they say will push the area’s infrastructure to “breaking point”.

Jemma Chambers, 39, lives on the Whyburn Lane and set up a Facebook group to oppose the plan, which has reached almost 2,000 members in a week.

Jemma said: “It started with just six people I know from around the area, but the strength of feeling has been incredible and all of a sudden there are 2000 members and it’s just exploded.

“There are so many concerns, I really believe it would be the breaking point for our already strained services.

“My husband and I have lived here for six years and we’ve got one doctors appointment in that time between us, because there are no GPs here.

“The traffic is already ridiculous and the infrastructure is ruined, there are houses being put up already and there are not school spaces for the kids.

“Across the road there’s 800 houses being built on the Green Belt land which my husband refers to as the right lung of Hucknall. The Whyburn development will get rid of the left lung.

“It’s where people go after work and relax and so many people have said they don’t know what they are going to do without this for their mental health.

“One thing that Covid had done has made everyone more appreciative of getting into nature and greenery and this would undermine that.

“People are in despair about the loss of this space and the crippling effect it will have on our community – there are so many aspects to why this should not happen and that’s why so many people are getting involved.”

The Whyburn Farm development is part of Ashfield District Council’s plan for housing and wider development until 2038, including two major housing settlements

If approved, the document would allow 457 new homes to be built in the district every year until 2038. This was down from a Government target of more than 800.

Jemma added: “Hucknall only has around 30,000 or so people and with those houses, assuming four people to a house, that’s going to increase the population by 25 per cent.

“We are not the sort of ‘not in my back yard’ people, we understand houses are needed but there’s brownfield land everywhere so it’s more a call to be sensible.

“It’s people from all walks of life coming out against the plans, it’s not the case of a group of old or young people moaning about each other. I don’t know a single person who wants this in the entire town.”

The Ashfield Independents administration moved forward with the local plan at its cabinet meeting on Monday September 20, agreeing to launch the first six-week consultation stage in October.

Residents argue that the Green Belt area should be preserved for its beauty and historical significance.

Megan McIlenna, 34, a online training designer who lives down the road from the Whyburn Farm site, said:

“It’s like plonking a whole new town down, the scale is massive and it’s going to disturb the area.

“The area is said to be the setting of two of Byron’s poems and there is a World War Two bunker near the site that may be disturbed by the work.

“I think the area they are planning to build in is very beautiful and is very well used and it’s one of Hucknall’s last green spaces left

“I think there is a chance we can stop this just because of the huge backlash there has been from the people of Hucknall, it’s incredibly controversial.

“It would be devastating if it went ahead, it is a place where people go to spend time in nature and people have fond memories of the Green Belt.

Councillor Matthew Relf (Ash Ind), portfolio holder for regeneration and planning, said: “The first thing to say its that we’re not entirely happy with this local plan either, because at the end of the day we’re told by the government how many houses we need to allocate for.

“We have had to put together this plan within the constraints of what is set upon us, but I do feel the plan has done an awful lot to minimise the negatives and maximise the positive impacts.

“The infrastructure comments are totally understandable, but the point of proposing two brand new settlements is so they will have their own schools and health care facilities and tram extensions.

“By having that concentration of development it unlocks the ability for us to deploy all that extra infrastructure.

“Let’s be clear as well, the problems that Hucknall faces are the same as those faced by the region in general when it comes to healthcare and access to schools.”

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