Final consultation on Ashfield District Council’s controversial housing plan expected in November
By Andrew Topping - Local Democracy Reporter
3rd Jul 2023 | Local News
Ashfield District Council will again ask residents for their views on its controversial housing plan in November before finally submitting it to the Government.
The Ashfield Independent-led authority has been drawing up its long-term housing development strategy for two years after the administration scrapped Labour's old plans in 2018.
Once completed, the crucial document will allocate sites for new homes over the coming years to meet Government housing targets.
When the council published its plan in autumn 2021, the authority set out where 8,226 homes would be built until 2038, working out to 457 homes per year.
But initial documents were met with backlash from some parts of the district where new homes had been allocated.
This included Hucknall, where a 3,000-home settlement was touted for the greenbelt at Whyburn Farm, as well as in Cauldwell Road, Sutton, where 1,000 homes were planned on greenfield land.
Petitions with thousands of signatures and hundreds of negative consultation responses led to the authority removing both sites from its plans at a meeting in December 2022.
The same meeting also agreed to reduce the length of the initial plan period from 15 to 10 years whilst also removing both sites.
Council officers confirmed this approach would still allow the authority to meet its annual housing numbers as both sites were not expected to be delivered until later in the 15-year window.
Now the authority's local plan development committee has met for the first time since the May 2023 local election amid preparations for the next steps.
Councillors were told the council must submit its plan to the Government for inspection by no later than June 30, 2025, to avoid falling under reformed Whitehall planning rules currently being progressed in Parliament.
The meeting, on Monday (July 3), also heard the authority's annual housing target has been reduced slightly to 446 new homes per year.
Land north of Larch Close, Underwood, will also be included in amended plans alongside a neighbouring plot.
This would be coupled with a new link road between Mansfield Road and Alfreton Road to prevent traffic 'rat running' on Sandhills Road.
And the majority of land at Beck Lane, Skegby, will also be included in the council's amended plans.
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Matt Relf (Ash Ind), the cabinet member responsible for the plan, confirmed the next phase of public consultation will launch later this year.
This will be the final stage of consultation before Government inspectors assess the council's plans.
Cllr Relf told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "The plan is to consult again in about November.
"We'll take the consultation back and this will be the plan that gets submitted to the national inspectors.
"It's probably going to be a further 18 months after that before we have an adopted local plan.
"We've got the bones of this plan and we're quite clearly moving forward with the removal of Whyburn Farm and Cauldwell Road, as has been agreed.
"They won't be in the plan, that's the policy set out by cabinet."
Further details on how the reduced plan will look are expected at the next committee meeting in September.