Very positive feedback on STRAG’s Field Farm alternative development plans
We wish to update you on the feedback received to our alternative proposals to limit the damage from the planned housing development at Field Farm, sent on 29 January. Many thanks if you have replied to our consultation (and if you haven’t, your opinion is still important to us)!
Our proposal (available for download at http://e-voice.org.uk/strag/assets/documents/news-letter-no-5), was for a combination of slightly higher densities in part of the site and no development, but instead an extension of Stapleford Hills Woodland Local Nature Reserve, in the north-eastern part. The written feedback we received (from members of the public and councillors) was overwhelmingly positive: 74% agreed that this would be the best compromise possible if the 450 dwellings have to be built.
Among the 26% negative comments, the predominant issue was that the plans were not necessarily bad but unrealistic, since people are concerned there isn’t a strong enough market for apartments. People are also concerned that apartments would not be attractive enough, and one mention was made of the feasibility of the project, the lack of run off for rainfall and playing areas for children. We think these issues can be addressed by intelligent and innovative design (more on this below). To be exhaustive we should also report one mention of fears of increase in social issues in three stories buildings. In our opinion, having good neighbours in the same house rather provides increased safety, and also opens up more possibilities for inter-generational support between elderly people and young families.
Since this response from the community encouraged us to take the idea further, on 4 March STRAG had a meeting with Broxtowe Borough Council’s planning officers and representatives of Westerman homes (the developer). This meeting was arranged by Cllr. Stan Heptinstall, whom we wish to thank again for this. Stan strongly put forward the importance of the area for both the local community and biodiversity. STRAG was able to put forward in details the reasons and advantages of our alternative proposal. We insisted that ecology wasn’t just about a corridor but also about noise and light pollution, foraging lands for species etc. and that the road over Boundary Brook itself, if it couldn’t be avoided, would make the biggest damage. We also expressed our concerns to the Council about the proposed removal of the adjacent land from the Green Belt (Zone 31 in the ongoing Green Belt Review consultation) and called for a coordinated planning approach towards biodiversity conservation/ enhancement over both sites.
The planners stated that they would be delighted to see a solution to reinforce the wildlife corridor, and that increasing densities to that effect was a perfectly sound principle.
Westerman stated that it would actually be more economical to build apartment blocks than individual houses and agreed to try and minimise the number of houses on the most valuable land; however they have experienced difficulties in the past with selling apartments. We insisted on the need to propose something really state-of-the-art in terms of environmentally-friendly design, and visually innovative and attractive.
Westerman proposes to stage a public presentation in the spring, once they have a revised plan and before they submit the full planning application. It will be very important for residents and interested parties to come and comment on the proposed design, since this will also give the developers an indication on the market’s perception of their plans, and could encourage them to choose the less damaging options.
We thank you for your interest and will keep you informed of any further development.
Chair, on behalf of
Stapleford and Trowell Rural Action Group (STRAG)