[BroxtoweInfo] Major planning news/John Bell RIP/Fair Trade fortnight/
Some quite dramatic news on the planning front, but first some shorter notes.
1. 1. John Bell
I’d like to pay tribute to John Bell, who died recently after very many years serving the community. A former railwayman and a passionate socialist, he was on both County and Borough councils at different times, and although his rumbustious personality produced plentiful rows over the years, I don’t think anyone ever doubted his commitment to the area. We often disagreed, but we still got on amiably throughout I like people who are genuine whether we agree or not, and I think he did too. He’s been ill for quite a while, but his sudden death still came as a shock.
2. Fair Trade Fortnight
Constituent Margaret Brasier asks me to pass this on as Beeston and chilwell’s Fair Trade fortnight is approaching:
Fairtrade Stall – Saturday February 23rd
There will be a Fairtrade Stall outside Sainsbury’s from 10am – 2pm on Saturday, 23rd February. Free samples will be available along with information about Fairtrade products available locally, and an opportunity to pledge to Take a Step to go further for Fairtrade in 2013.
Free Art Workshop for all the family – Saturday March 2nd
Free Art Workshop for all the family at The Other Space, High Road, Chilwell NG9 4AH (near The Hop Pole and opposite the tramworks site). Come along any time between 10am – 3pm and be creative with Fairtrade packaging! A local artist will be facilitating the workshop and it will be great to see what all ages create together to promote Fairtrade in an exciting and different way! Refreshments – Fairtrade of course – will be available throughout the day.
We hope you can come and join us!
If you can spare even a short time to help us at either/both event(s), we would be delighted to hear from you – firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Return of the planning controversy
It’s appeared for some time that the outcome of the housing debate was fairly clear there was going to be a plan to build up to 6150 homes up to 2028 including Field Farm or the Toton site, and almost certainly Field Farm since there was an early consensus not to go for the Toton development and it was hoped to shave some numbers off the figure to avoid building in both places. Depending on how one views these things, a certain degree of complacency or resignation has crept in.
However, I have been continuing to follow events closely, and there appear to have been two major game changers, both of which are unwelcome from the viewpoint of protecting green areas.
The first is the collapse of the “Rushcliffe strategy”. Unlike all the other boroughs, Rushcliffe went for a smaller number of houses that demographic projections suggest will be needed, relying on the Government’s stated commitment to localism, letting local councils know best, and so on (Anna Soubry repeatedly urged Broxtowe to trust the Government and follow Rushcliffe’s example). Officers in Broxtowe and the other boroughs were sceptical, and it’s turned out they were right Rushcliffe has been told by the Government’s Inspectors in blunt terms that they need to build many more houses. This has been reinforced by Ministerial rhetoric about sweeping away planning restrictions and fighting NIMBYism. Rushcliffe is now extremely vulnerable to development, since it does not have even a draft local structure plan.
The effect of this has been to prompt a rethink in the other boroughs as well: all of them pitched their estimates of housing need at the low end of the plausible range even though not going as far as Rushcliffe. The evident Ministerial militancy on the issue has prompted concern that other plans could be rejected too.
The second game-changer is HS2. This is in itself a long way off (2026+) but when and if it comes, it will clearly change Toton dramatically, from a leafy suburb to one of the main transport hubs for the entire East Midlands. It’s pretty obvious that there will also be a proposed tram extension from the current planned endpoint to the HS2.
Initial speculation was that HS2 could have the effect of prompting the developers to withdraw their housing application (to keep the area clear for development in 15 years’ time), but my understanding is that it’s had the opposite effect: they are all the more determined to press it forward, and there is also talk of hotels and restaurants and civic developments. The likelihood is that if the council turns it down, the developer will now win on appeal, so the council has the awkward choice of fighting a case it will probably lose (at taxpayers’ expense), or accepting a development that they didn’t want (but getting some potential for negotiation).
My understanding is that a new consultation will be launched next week to discuss these proposals, with the council seeking to manage rather than oppose the development. It is worth keeping an eye on the council website (www.broxtowe.gov.uk) since if this happens, the consultation will be launched there.
The other side of the coin is that the Temple proposal off Woodhouse Way looks to me very likely to be rejected. The proposed site is actually bisected by the planned HS2 route, so houses would be built only to be torn down a few years later. In theory it’s possible that the developers there could also propose to adapt to the prospect, but the big difference is that HS2 wouldn’t be stopping there and would simply roar through the middle of the site. In general, development in the north of the borough looks likely to be fairly limited, since everyone recognises that the Nuthall roundabout is a key bottleneck, though the Oxylane project is still in serious discussion and Awsworth is likely to grow in size.
I don’t report all these developments with any enthusiasm, since I’ve always said that the worst case scenario is that both Toton and Field Farm go ahead, with frankly alarming implications for traffic and the environment in the area. However, given the combination of Government pressure, major new infrastructure and the continuing (to my mind mistaken) opposition to larger Continental-style blocks of flats in the towns and cities, just that outcome is a serious prospect. If you live in the Toton/North Stapleford/Trowell area, it’s worth following this closely. As always, I’ll keep you posted as more information comes through.