Weekly digest: May 26

Hello again,

Another week has flown by and, as indicated last week, we have spent some time identifying alternative sources of funding to ensure the Forum has a secure footing going forward. A meeting of a Steering Group takes place next week to discuss current progress and agree next steps, so I’ll report more next week.

  1. Heritage Assessment work has started
    • AECOM have been in touch to say they have started their assessment of heritage assets & ‘character’ in our Area. We have provided them with further information relating to possible non-Barracks assets and that is their current focus
    • Clearly, the Barracks site is of particular interest to us all, and Barracks personnel have been in touch to clarify our requirement and ask for details of site attendees.
    • Hopefully, the site visit will take place in the next few weeks. As you know, we were hoping to undertake the visit during May, but MoD bureaucracy is a little slow.
  2. HS2 events taking place in June
    • Whilst the Barracks is important to us, we mustn’t forget that we have another significant development planned for Toton. HS2 Ltd have been in touch with a leaflet detailing their next set of ‘roadshow’ events. Here is a link to the leaflet
    • The key dates for your diary are:
      • Friday 22nd June (2pm-8pm): Trowell Parish Hall, Stapleford Road, Trowell NG9 3QA
      • Weds 27th June (2pm-8pm): West Park Leisure Centre, Long Eaton NG10 4AA
    • The leaflet also states: “If you are unable to attend either of these dates, new information on the evolving design will be available at hs2.org.uk from Monday 4th June”. We’ll check the site at the due time to make sure the information is there and re-post the link again.
  3. Toton Sidings ecology and landscaping review
    • Earlier this week another branch of AECOM (this time, the HS2 team) got in touch with myself and Norman Lewis who, as well as being a member of the Forum’s Steering Group, is the Chairman of Friends of Toton Fields
    • They have requested a meeting in the first week of June to discuss the ecology and landscape of the Sidings. Of course, we have readily agreed, and it is great to see HS2 being proactive in seeking out our (in truth, Norman’s) views when it comes to assessing the ecology of the site and how best to mitigate disruption to the wildlife in the area
    • It is vitally important that we retain as much of the wildlife as we can in the Sidings, but we need to acknowledge that the Forum has no direct ‘control’ over what takes place there. Despite that, we will do all we can to protect of Toton Fields LNR and exert as much influence as possible protect the wider area of the Sidings.
  4. And finally…….
  • We haven’t forgotten about GDPR. I know, I know – we are all sick to the back teeth with the avalanche of emails about this topic. But we need to be sure the Forum is compliant as well. For us it means ensuring we have a data protection & privacy policy published on our website and then making sure to give you a link to view it. More on this next week as well as our official GDPR notice to you.
  • A HS2 Strategy Board meeting takes place next Tuesday. We had been hoping to see a subsidiary ‘Toton Delivery Board’ set up and running before now. However, there have been some wrangling behind the scenes between Nott’m City Council and Notts County Council on the exact shape/make-up of the Delivery Board. Tuesday’s meeting will be presented with a final proposal and hopefully a way forward will be agreed. It is high time the HS2 East Midlands Strategy paper (published last autumn) was taken forward to the next stage. We need to give detailed focus to how it can be implemented in the area surrounding the Hub Station. Watch this space – as they say – but don’t hold your breath!

Enough I think for this week. More next time.

Kind regards

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Weekly digest: May 19th

Hello again

Well, I’m not sure what happened to last week’s edition – or rather I do, but only when it was too late to correct. I posted last week’s digest a day late and as such missed our scheduled ‘slot’ for the automated mail services we’ve recently set-up. I’d hoped to overcome the missed deadline by labelling the edition as a ‘newsflash’ rather than the standard ‘latest news’ which should send out messages on a daily basis. Unfortunately, that didn’t work as expected. The glitch has now been sorted but it means last week’s digest has now been included this time. So, you are getting two for the price of one! Sounds like a good deal……but best not repeated.  Normal service resumes next week.

  1. Funding news #1: Outlook a little gloomy
    • It has to be said that this week hasn’t been the greatest one we had. We received formal confirmation late yesterday (Friday 18th) that we were unsuccessful with a bid we submitted to Notts County Council for a grant to fund, primarily, our ongoing admin costs.
    • We submitted the bid late in January for 3 years’ worth of revenue funds that would have sorted out our day-to-day costs. The aim was to give us the head room to focus our fund-raising efforts to cover the one-off costs needed to produce our Plan, publicise our work, and consult with residents.
    • At the time we submitted our application our sponsors gave us firm indications that our bid was strong and would be successful. But, hey-ho, sometimes even the firmest of indications can prove worthless.
    • So, we need look elsewhere for office funding. This is not as straight forward as it sounds since most funding bodies award grants to one-off projects rather than cover ongoing admin costs.
    • It does mean that SG effort has to be redoubled onto fundraising so a couple of us will, unfortunately, suspend working directly on producing the Plan so we can provide support to Denise, our Treasurer, to find alternative sources of funds and submit applications
  2. Funding news #2: But every cloud has a …… 
    • It’s not all doom and gloom on the funding front. Whilst the news from Notts County Council was a blow, we have had some good news relating to our funding application to Locality
    • You may recall that we applied to Locality for a £9,000 grant to cover the costs of producing and distributing our Plan.
    • They have come back to us this week agreeing to fund a good portion of our submission but have a query about the costs we included for some consultancy. Once we have clarified those costs (a query on the day rates) we are pretty confident they will approve the grant
    • However….this time, let’s be a little cautious and avoid counting too many chickens before they come home to roost (to completely mangle metaphors!). Fingers crossed, we hope for some good news in a couple of weeks
  3. And finally……
    • You may have seen the item on BBC local news last week that the DIO (Defence Infrastructure Organisation) have agreed that they will ensure the WW1 memorial on the Barracks will be properly cleaned in time for the commemoration events at the end of June. Whilst this is good news, I remain sceptical that cleaning may not be enough to ensure all the names & inscriptions are fully legible. We’ll see what transpires – hopefully my fears will prove unfounded.
    • Those of you who receive Anna Soubry’s weekly update may have been surprised by the item on HS2. It mentions a meeting held in Nuthall last week with HS2 representatives, who said it was possible to tunnel the entire route through Broxtowe including Long Eaton. Anna intends to raise the matter with the Transport Minister as it was thought this option was ‘out of the question’. Personally, I think a tunnel solution will be prohibitively expensive although I can understand why Long Eaton and Nuthall residents will appreciate the chance to re-open the option.

And since you’ve had a double dose of me this week, I’ll say again:
“That’s all for this week folks. See you next week”

Kind regards

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Weekly digest: May 13th

Hello everyone

A couple of days late this week; no real reason apart from being a tad busy in the garden the last couple of days. But I promised a shorter edition this week to make up for last week’s protracted report. This week I’ve spent time summarising the final elements of the consultation we undertook back in February ….

  1. Consultation feedback: flip chart summary: background/brief recap
  • You’ll recall that our community consultation comprised 2 strands: an online (and physical) survey asking for your views – from strongly agree to strongly disagree – against a series of statements about our Area
  • We had almost 180 responses to that survey and I published the results a few weeks ago at the end of March. In case you’ve mislaid the report here’s another link, so you can have a look at the top priorities
  • However, as well as the survey we also gathered views on a series of flip charts posted up at each of the 4 consultation events we held – at the Village (AGM) and subsequently at Chilwell, Toton, and back at the Village for a 2nd event
  • There were 4 main flip charts headed up to stimulate ideas:
    • ‘What do you love about where you live?’
    • ‘What don’t you like about where you live?’
    • ‘What would you change about this place?’
    • ‘Do you have ideas for making this place even better?’
  1. Consultation feedback: flip chart summary: the results
  • In total, 214 thoughts/ideas were captured on these flips. Some of the thoughts were duplicates in that if someone agreed with a previously captured comment, they merely placed a tick next to it to indicate endorsement.
  • Despite some duplication we had a terrific range of thoughts and suggestions. To make sense of it all, I categorised the comments into 7 broad themes:
    • Transport/Infrastructure (with 72 comments)
    • Sense of Community (46 comments)
    • Personal wellbeing (34 comments)
    • Greenspace (29 comments
    • Housing (21 comments)
    • Retail/Other (12 & 8 respectively)
  • The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted that the comments in total come to 222. That is because a few applied across more than 1 theme e.g. ‘install power points to charge electric cars’ applies equally to new housing as well as retail areas/car parks
  • As you can see Transport/Infrastructure topped the list. There were 13 comments liking/praising the good transport connections & links to Nott’m/Derby/M1 etc as well as access to Attenborough station for rail connections and good ‘bus & tram service’
    However there were 34 comments disliking the current state of ‘traffic’, ‘congestion’, ‘speed bumps’, ‘poor public transport’.
  • When it came to Sense of Community, the main comments centred around the lack of a ‘community focal point’, ‘misses a village hall/community centre’.
  • The main themes that have emerged will clearly play a key role in determining the main objectives for our Plan. We always knew (or at least strongly suspected) that transport/infrastructure would be a dominant theme in the Plan along with Greenspace/environment. But I was tad – albeit pleasantly – surprised to see the depth of feeling on the lack of a heart/centre for the area.
  • I’ll produce a summary file of all the comments along, so you can review and let me know if I’ve missed a key theme.
  1. And finally……
  • The SG held a very useful meeting last week. We agreed the objectives and main activities (to raise funds for the Forum) of the CIC we’re are creating. We will now complete the application forms and send them off in the next week or two.
  • Good progress was reported across all fronts in developing our Neighbourhood Plan. The Housing strand have a draft proposal in place that only needs a little more polishing before it is ready for peer review by the rest of the SG. And some of the other groups aren’t far behind.
  • I’m afraid we have little to report regarding the DIO plans to restore the memorial. Despite pressing them for a response we’ve been effectively stonewalled by being told the matter now rests with the DIO parliamentary team who will decide when and who will receive the update. We’ve briefed Anna Soubry about this development and so for the moment we are all waiting their plans. Not at all a satisfactory situation….

That’s all for this week folks. See you next week – back at normal publication time as well!

Kind regards

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Weekly digest: May 5th

Hello everyone

Picking up from last week’s digest I said I’d like to spend time this week providing updates on the various meetings we’ve attended recently.

  1. Summat about Meeting #1: Blueprint
    • Blueprint is a developer, based in Nottingham, that specialises in regenerating brown field sites and developing low energy, sustainable homes. We met the CEO Nick Ebbs a couple of weeks ago to find out more about their ideas in designing sustainability into new homes. We want to incorporate sustainability into our housing policies in our Neighbourhood Plan
    • We had a look around their current development site at Trent Basin in Nottingham and Nick explained their solution to storing solar energy in giant batteries before being ‘drawn-down’ by individual dwellings registered to the scheme. Here’s a link to the project.  If you are interested in this scheme, there is an Open Day next Sat 12th at Trent Basin
    • Nick also told us about a radical new development taking place near Bicester: an eco-town. He suggested we have a look at their ideas for development. Here’s a link to the website and it does look interesting. A couple of us plan to have a trip down there over the summer to have a closer look.
    • We agreed to stay in touch with Nick whilst we develop our ideas and convert them into workable, practical policies. Nick was interested in our Area and thought the Barracks site lends itself very well to exploiting sustainable solutions.
  2. Summat ab…. Meeting #2: Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO):
    • We met with the DIO (sellers of the Barracks on behalf of the MoD) on Monday. The aim was to update each other on recent activities with a focus on master planning for the site. In particular we were interested in their thoughts on the ideas presented to us by the university students. And the verdict was largely complimentary, albeit they pointed out that some of the ideas were a little ‘left field’.
    • Overall it was a productive meeting. We met a consultant who has been tasked with undertaking a consultation exercise on behalf of the DIO. We arranged to meet with him to share the work we have done thus far and help where we can with his plans. At this stage the thinking is there will be a series of exhibitions over the summer period (July/August). We’ll keep you updated as things develop but expect to be asked more questions about your thoughts for the Barracks.
    • We talked about the work – a Heritage Character Assessment – we have commissioned from AECOM. Given the history of the Barracks a lot of the work will naturally focus on the site, so we wanted to ensure the DIO were geared up to allow access to our consultants. We hope the assessment will take place over the next 3 or 4 weeks so watch this space….
    • Further meetings with the DIO are planned so we can talk through the research underpinning their idea that the site is capable of 1500 dwellings. In particular we want to focus on road/traffic infrastructure. That is a key concern raised in our consultation exercise
  3. Summa……… Meeting #3: Locality/AECOM
    • Not a meeting but a telephone conference with AECOM last Tuesday to talk over our request for further technical support to help us develop our Plan. We have requested assistance in 2 key areas:
      • Evidence gathering and policy development. The help we need here is how best to formulate key policies in our Plan. There are a number of policies that need to be tightly worded and justified with strong evidence to ensure they pass through the examination process unaltered. For instance, we believe a new road is needed that runs up through the Barracks (exiting near the tram terminus) to help relieve congestion on Stapleford Lane. How do we phrase a policy (with supporting evidence) to ensure this road is built?
      • Housing design and design codes. The assistance we are looking for here builds on the sustainability point noted above with Blueprint. How can we encourage developers to design sustainable (and affordable) solutions into new dwellings in our Area?
    • We made good progress on this call and AECOM are now going back to government to get approval to fund these tasks for us. They said this is (normally) a formality, and they hope to assign consultants to us in the next few weeks.
  4. Su…………… Meeting #4: Broxtowe Borough Council
    • On Wednesday we met with the Head of Planning at Broxtowe Council. Again, this is one of a series of meetings we have to keep abreast of latest thinking and activities.
    • The main output this time was to get ready for the publication of the Local Plan Part 2. You will recall we consulted on this last autumn and submitted our ideas to the council for consideration. We were told that the majority of our ideas have been accepted but there are a couple where there remains a difference between us. We have the opportunity to comment on the final Plan before it is formally submitted to external examination, but we don’t believe there will be any ‘show stoppers’.
    • It was explained the rough timetable going forward for the Local Plan is:
      • Late June: Plan published and reviewed by Jobs and Economy committee
      • Jul: Plan discussed and approved at Full Council
      • Aug: Plan submitted to government for external examination
      • Sept- Dec: External Examination takes place and recommended changes published (there are always recommended changes!).
      • Jan-Mar 2019: Depending on scale/severity of recommendations, further consultation may be required. Recommendations discussed, and modifications made.
      • Apr-Jun 2019: Local Plan Part 2 finally agreed and adopted.
    • This schedule spookily follows a similar timeline we expect our Neighbourhood Plan to take. We expect our Plan to be submitted by the end of 2018; examined in spring 2019, before final changes and adoption in summer 2019.
    • We will attend the Jobs and Economy Committee in June so will report back then on the final form of the Local Plan and what it means for our Area
  5. ………………… Meeting #5: Peveril Homes
    • Later that afternoon (Weds) we met up with James Smith, a director at Peveril Homes. This meeting formed part of our plan to meet and engage with all major landowners in our Area. It follows on from our meetings with Heart Church and UKPP (Toton) Ltd
    • James reiterated Peveril’s position that they have planning permission for 282 houses on the land to the west of Toton Lane and they are looking to start work on site in the next few months. They do not view the advent of the HS2 station as a ‘given’; that it may be stopped before it receives Royal Assent – expected in 2022. Peveril cannot afford a ‘wait and see’ stance since their current permission expires before then. Hence their focus to start work on building houses
    • This position is not surprising and reinforces the views expressed by both Heart Church and UKPP(Toton) Ltd. Our view remains the same: that discussions need to take place to ensure current landowners are not disadvantaged by waiting for the HS2 decision and, if it receives Royal Assent, the subsequent impact on development in our area.
    • We agreed to stay in touch with James as we develop our Plan. We next plan to meet with Oxalis Planning, who act as an agent for some land around Wheatgrass farm – both north and south of the tram line bordering Field Lane/Inham Road
  6. And finally…
    • You may have seen Richard and Anna Soubry on local BBC EMT news last week (Thurs 3rd) talking about our concerns over the poor state of the memorial on the Barracks. We are not prepared to let this matter quietly drop and we are still pressing the DIO to confirm they will properly restore the memorial and not just clean it. We are grateful for Anna’s support and fingers crossed the DIO will see sense.
    • The Steering Group is meets again next Thursday (10th) and the main item is to finalise preparations for the formation of the new CIC (Community Interest Company). If you have any matter you’d like raised at the meeting, please let me know.

Phew, a long edition this week, the longest ever I think. But there was a lot to catch up on relating to these meetings, so I hope you’ll understand. I’ll make sure it is back to normal length next week!

Kind regards

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Weekly digest: April 28th

Hello again

It’s only been a couple of weeks since the last edition, but quite a lot has happened, so without further ado….

  1. WWI Shell Filling Factory explosion memorial – Part 1
    • You will recall that we are concerned about the state of the memorial located on Chetwynd Barracks and that we sent a strongly worded letter to the DIO (Defence Infrastructure Organisation) requesting details of planned activities
    • Well, unfortunately, the DIO didn’t respond to our email so we issued a press release late last week to local media outlets – including regional TV stations & the Nottingham Post.
    • The Post published an article last Weds (25th April) – and here is a link. The Post asked for a comment from the DIO, but they repeated their intention was to undertake “sensitive cleaning of the stone bearing the names…”
    • We don’t believe that cleaning the memorial is sufficient and as our Chairman, Richard, noted: ‘…maybe it’s time the community took over the responsibility of the site in perpetuity’
    • What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment on our website or feel free to email me.
  2. WWI Shell Filling Factory explosion memorial – Part 2
    • As well as issuing the press release to local media we also briefed our MP, Anna Soubry, and asked for her support
    • Anna agreed with us that the MoD must quickly take action. She raised a question about the condition of the memorial in Parliament last Monday (23rd April), here is a link to her question. Anna has also written a letter to the Secretary of State for Defence (Gavin Williamson) requesting assurances that the memorial will be restored in time for the commemoration events starting in late June
    • We’d like to thank Anna for responding so quickly to our request for help. Hopefully her intervention will make the DIO rethink their plans to clean the memorial and ensure it is properly restored. As always, we’ll keep you updated…
  3. Application submitted for a further grant from Locality
    • Denise, our Treasurer, as submitted our follow-up application to Locality for a £9,000 grant to help us cover the costs of producing our Neighbourhood Plan.
    • We also requested free consultancy covering two key areas for us: a) gathering evidence and developing policies and b) producing bespoke urban design guides and codes (particularly relating to the Barracks)
    • Locality previously agreed to provide a consultant to undertake a Heritage Character Assessment for our area and that work should be starting in the next few weeks
    • Whilst it’s a little early to expect our application to be approved, the signs are looking good as they have asked for more details about the consultancy work we have requested. We will be speaking to them next week.
  4. Plan strands taking off…
    • Our Housing strand/group met for the first time a couple of weeks ago and its lead, Mark, sent out an update to you via MailChimp last week and letting you know we will be asking for your input/critique in due course
    • Most of our groups are now getting stuck in to the task to gather evidence to help formulate policies for the Neighbourhood Plan so expect more updates like this, either direct from group leads or else via me in these digests.
    • If you want more details about these groups, and especially if you would like to get involved, please let me know. We have had some people join us to help with this work, but more are always welcome.
  5. And finally…
    • We met with Peter (university student) who has refined his ideas on a masterplan for the Barracks area. It is now looking pretty close to what we think it could look like. There are still some minor tweaks that could be made (there always are) but it provides a great starting point of how the site could be taken forward.
    • The Comms group held a meeting last week and a key topic was the new data protection regulations (GDPR). We are working to ensure we are compliant which means producing and publishing a privacy policy – more on this in a future edition.
    • We met with Blueprint a couple of weeks ago (as reported last time) and are hoping to meet with Peveril this coming week to discuss their current plans for the land they own at Toton Lane. We are also meeting the DIO on Monday to discuss their ideas for the development of the Barracks. Again, more on all these meetings next time

So, as I said at the beginning, a lot is happening at the moment. But that’s enough I think for this week. Lots more next time!

Kind regards

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Housing Group – First Meeting

We had the first meeting of the Housing Group this week. The purpose of the Housing Group is to create the Housing Development Planning Policies for the Chetwynd Neighbourhood Plan.

It was a constructive meeting with a number of topics brought up for discussion some of which we all agreed on, others of which had a number of diverse opinions.

However, what we did agree upon was a process by which we will create the Planning Polices for the Neighbourhood Plan which will then go out for Consultation.

We plan to meet three or four times to create a Draft Position Paper which describes the Chetwynd Neighbourhood today, how we foresee it changing over the period of the Plan and how we would like the Forum to influence those changes.

We will circulate the Draft Paper to the Forum membership through the website for your comments, particularly about things that are important to you but we’ve forgotten about.

So, the purpose of this post is to warn you that this will be coming your way and that we will need your comments relatively quickly so that we can create the Planning Policies for further Consultation

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Weekly digest: April 14th


A shorter edition this week, and a little rushed, as I’m off again later today (Saturday) to the south west for another family engagement tomorrow.  So, straight to business….

  1. CIC starting the formation of a company
    • We discussed the formation of a Community Interest Company (CIC) at our Steering Group meeting last Thursday. You will recall the AGM approved the recommendation to form a separate company to assure the long-term oversight of developments in our Area once the Forum wraps up. [Neighbourhood Forums are only designated to run for 5 years before being wound-up.]
    • The Steering Group discussed various elements that need to be in place. We agreed to form a separate company to sit alongside the Forum. We also agreed the prime aim of the CIC will be to support the Forum by applying for funds only available to incorporated organisations.
    • There remain a couple of wrinkles to be ironed out relating to the number of company shares to issue as well as the number of directors we want in place. The sub-group will look into these technical elements for us and report back next month with final recommendations.
    • The other main item on the agenda was updates on tasks needed to shape policies for the Neighbourhood Plan. A good start has been made but, naturally enough, a lot more work is in front of us.
  2. WWI Shell Filling Factory explosion memorial
    • The centenary of the WWI explosion that took place on the Barracks is barely 10 weeks away on July 1st. Organisers from St Mary’s Church Attenborough are taking the lead on the events to commemorate the occasion; details can be found here on their website
    • We have been supporting St Mary’s when it comes to the actual memorial located inside the Barracks. We pointed out to the DIO (Defence Infrastructure Organisation) who manage all MoD estates the poor state of repair of the memorial back in January. Some of the names of those who lost their lives are illegible and many more are barely readable. We requested remedial works were needed to fully restore the memorial so that all names and inscriptions are fully legible.
    • It was roughly 10 weeks ago when we first raised the matter with them and there are 10 weeks or so left to July 1st. It is disappointing to report that not much activity has been undertaken – apart from a fresh lick of paint to the shells and chain bordering the memorial and attempts to source some fund for cleaning!.
    • We therefore sent a stiffly worded email to the DIO requesting details of planned activities over the next 10 weeks and suggested that the proposal to clean the memorial rather than restore it would not be acceptable. Unless we are satisfied with the response, we will look to escalate this as we believe it is imperative the memorial is in a pristine condition for the commemoration events. I’ll keep you posted on developments…
  3. A blue Monday coming up
    • On Monday a couple of us are visiting Blueprint to talk to them about building sustainable homes. Blueprint are a Nottingham based company (part-owned by the City Council) who are innovators when it comes to regenerating brown field sites and developing leading-edge sustainable buildings – both commercial and domestic.
    • They are the organisation behind the University Science Park (off University Boulevard) and are currently redeveloping Trent Basin in Nottingham (off Daleside Road).
    • We are keen to pick their brains regarding the design of sustainable homes for the Barracks. As you know the Barracks is south facing on a slope so should be a prime site for energy efficient housing whether via solar energy or ground source heating.
    • I won’t say any more for the moment – I’m already getting out of my depth by mentioning ‘ground source heating’ – but sustainability is clearly of great interest to a number of those who commented at our consultation events and I’m looking forward to learning more.
  4. And finally…
    • I said last week I’d provide further thoughts on the comments provided at our consultation events. I confess I’ve not yet had time however, here is a link to a file containing the raw transcriptions of comments summarised by topic/event. If you are interested have a look: I will get around to properly analysing them in the next few weeks and will then report back.
    • A big ‘shout out’ to those people who have offered us help over the last couple of weeks. Both Chris and Anderson have kindly agreed to help develop policies for our Plan. And David came back with some useful suggestions for sources of funds. Thank you all.
      If anyone else is able to provide help or advice, please get in touch

That’s all for this week and the next edition will be in a fortnight.  I know, I know…I’m away this afternoon for a jaunt to the south west (to attend a birthday celebration) but, somewhat shamefacedly, I have to admit we are back down there again next weekend for yet another family event – this time a 40th wedding anniversary. But enough of my tribulations…. see you in a fortnight!

Kind regards

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Weekly digest: April 7th

Hello everyone

Let’s start this week with some good news! Our application to Locality for a consultant to undertake a Heritage Character Assessment in our Area has been successful. AECOM (a ‘major league’ consultancy retained by Locality to support groups such as ours) have assigned us a consultant.  We hope the consultant will start work ‘on the ground’ in early May once we’ve agreed terms of reference over the next couple of weeks. And this is where we need your help; more below….

  1. Heritage? In Toton & Chilwell?
    • You may think we don’t have heritage assets in our neck of the woods. But you would be wrong. We may not be blessed with centuries-old, iconic buildings but we have significant assets. And the Steering Group is determined to assess them all to make sure they are not overlooked when it comes to future developments
    • The assessment will naturally focus on the Barracks and especially the WW1 explosion memorial & site. But in addition, we will look at key buildings such as the Officers’ Mess, the WW1 Infirmary, the shell filling factory.
    • We will also consider other assets in our area, such as the site of the old mill on Manor Park; the old cottages on High Road Toton; and perhaps Ghost House Lane in Chilwell.
    • But…do you know of any other places we should consider? We don’t claim encyclopaedic knowledge of the history of Toton & Chilwell so if you know of assets we should include in this assessment, please leave a comment online – at the end of this post! Many thanks
  2. Consultation feedback: top priorities
    • Following on from last week’s digest here are some top priorities that have clearly emerged from the consultation exercise. Results file here
    • The top 4 reasons we enjoy living in our Area are:
      1. Access to green spaces: 2. Local wildlife and habitats: 3. Safe & quiet environment: 4. Transport links
    • The first 3 are clearly linked and reinforces the need to protect local nature reserves/green spaces and enhance them where we can. Yes, we are losing significant green belt, so we must mitigate losses as best we can. Our proposal for a ‘significant’ wildlife corridor to the north of Cleve Ave/Katherine Drive to links Toton Fields reserve to Hobgoblin Wood in the Barracks will be an important component of the Plan
    • The top 4 aspects that are important to protect are:
      1. Green spaces: 2. Peace and quiet; 3. Nature conservation: 4. Air quality (with ‘Access to countryside’ not far behind)
    • Again, these elements reflect the overriding concern to protect what we enjoy the most; green spaces and local wildlife conservation. We have a strong environment sub-group – including a member who was a driving force behind the creation of the Attenborough Nature Reserve – looking at all of these aspects. I personally hope we can see lots of tree planting in our Area to help both wildlife and air quality.
    • Finally, the top 3 elements that need improving are:
      1. Volume of traffic: 2. Surface water/flood plain issues: 3. Green spaces/wildlife
    • No real surprises here either. We know how bad traffic congestion is throughout our streets but especially around Swiney Way and Stapleford Lane at peak times. Likewise, we know a lot of Toton Sidings and the lower part of Toton (esp Portland Road/Carrfield Road) lies in the flood plain. Again, our Environment group have this issue well in their sights!
    • More thoughts next week on the comments expressed to support these findings. In the meantime, if you have further thoughts yourselves on these priorities (or anything else) please leave a comment at the bottom of this post on the website  so we can continue and share the debate.
  3. Money, Money, Money
    • “Ahhh, all the things I could do / if I had a little money / It’s a rich man’s world”
      Yep, Abba have a point, don’t they? We could all do a lot of things if we had a little money. And the Forum is no different.
    • We are again looking for funding to help undertake the tasks we face over the next 12 months. Denise, our Treasurer, has been reviewing possible funders and come up with a couple of likely candidates:
      • Locality – this one was easy since they have already funded our community consultation work (primarily our RCAN consultant)
      • Awards for All – a Lottery funded body that helps small voluntary/community groups such as ours
    • We can apply for up to £10,000 from each so Denise is now drafting up applications for each. These applications are in addition to the submission we made to Notts County Council for a grant at the end of January. We hope to hear if we have been successful with that application in the next week or so.
    • But… more funding is always useful. We need expert help to provide strong evidence to justify the policies we need to sort out the problems we face. Such as a traffic consultant to examine the congestion that bothers all of us. These consultants – as you can imagine – don’t come cheap. So, if you know of a generous philanthropist (have I asked this before?!) – or other good sources of funds – please let us know!
  4. And finally…
    • We are having our regular monthly Steering Group meeting next week. One of the main topics on the agenda is the formation of the CIC (Community Interest Company) that was approved at the AGM in January. A sub-group has looked into the various options we could adopt and will report back on their findings.

That’s it for this week – more next time.

Kind regards

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Weekly digest: March 31st


Well, it’s Easter time and the weather is predictably disappointing. On the upside, it means I don’t have to spend the weekend pressure washing the decking and garden path! Instead it gives me a chance to catch up with the outputs of our consultation exercise back in February. The survey results have been collated and the results provide great input to our thinking for the Plan

  1. Consultation survey: The Results are in!
    • First, let me say we had a terrific response to the survey: 179 people took the time to give us their views – our thanks to you all. With this level of response, it means we have detailed, credible insights into the thoughts & views of our community. Our Plan will be all the stronger because of it.
    • Responses were split roughly 50/50 between male/female contributors – which was good to see. A disappointing element, however, was the age profile. Only 1 in 5 responses were from people under 45. The Steering Group will need to give further thought to how best we garner views from the younger generation. After all it is this group who will be most affected by the changes coming our way over the next 15+ years.
    • Full results can be viewed here. There are a number of graphs and a selection of comments. I’ll provide some further thoughts on these results next week.
    • Work is still needed to collate and assess the comments collected on the flip charts at each event – more on that next week as well.
  1. HS2 Station Delivery Board
    • The latest HS2 Strategy Board meeting was held last Monday (26th March). The main item discussed was the creation of a ‘HS2 Station Delivery Board’. This group will focus on turning the ideas for our Area contained in the Growth Strategy into actions ‘on the ground’
    • The set-up of the Board has taken longer than we hoped. Due to the size & significance of the plans for our Area there are, unsurprisingly, a number of competing interests. But whilst the final shape and remit of the Board has still to be ironed out, everyone agrees we must quickly move forward
    • A number of meetings for the new Board have been scheduled over the next 6 months and we are pleased to report that the Forum has been asked to join. At this stage our concern is that the number of people invited to join looks excessive, but we’ll see how things develop.
  2. £100million HS2 garden village bid for our Area
    • You may not have seen this news article (from the D2N2 website) published a week or so ago. It’s about a bid made by Notts County Council for a sizeable chunk of funds from central government to help fund ‘infrastructure’ work in our Area
    • Kay Cutts (leader of County Council) reported to the HS2 Strategy Board that their bid had successfully cleared the first hurdle to access this funding and she was hopeful the government will approve of the bid at the next stage. Which is fantastic news!
    • As to the nature of these ‘infrastructure’ works, well we can only speculate. But clearly that amount of cash should go a long way to: build/improve road access from the A52 to the station; perhaps help ease the move of George Spencer across the road; perhaps even to move/relocate the electricity sub-station at the top of Stapleford Lane. BUT…this is just speculation so best not to get ahead of ourselves.
  3. Stakeholder meetings continue…
    • Last Wednesday (28th March) Richard and myself held another useful meeting with a stakeholder who has an interest in land off Stapleford Lane. This time it was with UKPP(Toton), a company who works closely with Heart Church on land either side of the Lane
    • Not surprisingly UKPP(Toton) are aligned in their thinking with Heart Church. They too acknowledge the publication of HS2 Growth Strategy is potentially a ‘game changer’ in the way Toton Lane is developed. However, like Heart, they too believe the HS2 Growth Strategy is, at this stage, too uncertain as it is wholly dependent on HS2 receiving Royal Assent in 2022.
    • They are therefore working on the current, approved, planning application for 220 or so houses. Once all planning conditions have been cleared, UKPP(Toton), like Heart, will look to sell their interest in the land (to a builder) rather than wait a further perhaps 4/5 years for HS2 to be confirmed
    • An interesting side conversation developed around another company the director of UKPP(Toton) is involved in – Charterpoint Group Ltd. This company specialises in developing retirement villages – it’s involved in developing the land next to the tram stop on Chilwell Road. We mentioned that an option we were considering was some retirement dwellings on the Barracks site. So, we are hoping to develop this relationship further.
    • Anyway, we are now arranging to meet Peveril (the last major owner of land west of Stapleford Lane) as well as contacting landowners to the east of the Lane – around the tram terminus. As always, I’ll keep you updated on progress
  4. And finally…
    • Welcome to our new members! I’ve added new email addresses gathered from the consultations to our lists. We now have over 760 people registered with the Forum. It would be terrific to break the 1,000 mark before we submit our Plan at Christmas. If you know of anyone who isn’t yet receiving these updates, please ask them to get in touch.
    • This is the first digest to be sent from our website via our new MailChimp service. It is easier for us to manage these digests from a central location not least because it means we are less reliant on particular individuals. But we hope to maintain the chatty, informal style as well. Let us know your thoughts on this switch

And that’s all for this week folks – more next week.

Kind regards

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Weekly Digest: March 17th 2018

As previewed last week, I’d like to spend most of this week updating you on the outputs of the Steering Group workshop held 10 days ago. I spent time this week in the office catching up with the outputs and…. there are a lot. I took a couple of pictures and attached them below so you can get an idea of the work going on and the state of the office! As you can see our work plan dominates the place – but it provides focus for the next 6 months or so. I’ve summarised the main work streams into 2 themes

  1. Neighbourhood Plan. Theme 1: Geographic focus

This theme takes a geographic perspective. We have divided up our Area into 7 blocs split into 2 sections – 4 undeveloped blocs and 3 community areas

  • The undeveloped blocs are:
    • Land west of Toton/Stapleford Lane (between Cleve Ave and A52, down to the Sidings): this is all of the land currently with the Strategic Growth Area
    • Land east of Toton Lane/north of tram terminus (including Bardills and nearby businesses) all the way north to Bramcote and west to Inham Road, Chilwell
    • Land east of Stapleford Lane/south of tram terminus (backing Katherine Drive/Barracks: all the way to Field Lane, Chilwell
    • Land within Chetwynd Barracks.

§  We want to treat these blocs separately as: some have planning permission already (west of Toton Lane); some don’t yet have planning permission, but we know will be developed (Barracks); some are green belt and so may never be developed. We must consider all areas and ensure our views for the long term are included

  • The community areas are:
    • Chilwell West ward
    • Chilwell Meadows
    • Toton

§  We need to consider what, if any, sites there are within these areas (such as the ex-Manor Garage site at the bottom of the High Road) that could be redeveloped and if so how? We also need to assess impacts on these areas arising from development elsewhere, such as the noise mitigation measures needed for the Banks Road area when HS2 comes along.

2. Neighbourhood Plan. Theme 2: Topic focus

This theme is based on the various topics that cover across the area. We’ve identified, in no particular order, the following:

  • Schools (infant, primary, secondary, 6th form)
  • Shops/Community Centre, inc. heritage – a central focus for the Barracks area
  • Community facilities (library, health centre/dentist, allotments, leisure both indoor and outdoor etc.)
  • Housing (design, styles, sustainability, locations)
  • Infrastructure (roads, public transport, cycle ways, footpaths, utilities)
  • Business (existing, new)
  • Environment (green spaces, wildlife corridors, local reserves, flood plains)

§  For each of these topics we need to decide what is needed and where. And provide the backing evidence necessary to justify our proposals

3.   Your chance to get involved!

We have asked you before to let us know if you’d like to help us develop our Plan. And we haven’t followed through when you stuck your hands up. Apologies for that.

Now is the time, however, when we really do need help. Each of the geographic blocs and topics are led by members of the Steering Group. Their first task is to decide what activities are needed and how best to carry them out.

If you are interested in any of these blocs/topics, please get in touch and let us know. We’ll collate the names and pass them on to the relevant leader who will then get back to you to explain how you’ll be able to help and when.  Many thanks

4.      Stakeholder meetings

As mentioned last week that we are arranging a number of meetings with significant landowners in our Area.

On Tuesday we held a very useful meeting with Heart Church, who are based in Talbot Street, Nott’m. The church owns approx. 56 acres of land mostly to the west of Stapleford Lane, backing Cleve Ave. 

The main thing we learned is that the church want to see the land developed as per the current permission for 500 houses. They believe the ideas contained in the East Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy Plan are too speculative and uncertain. Furthermore, they believe that if the Strategy does take off, it will still be a long, long time before it is delivered. They are looking to sell their land in the next couple of years rather than wait perhaps 5-10 years.

We are now arranging meetings with two further stakeholders with interest in land to the west of Stapleford/Toton Lane: UKPP (Toton) and Peveril. I’ll keep you updated on progress

5.      And finally…

Richard and Graham attended the Council’s Jobs and Economy meeting on Thursday. The main item of interest for us was the publication of the latest 2017/2018 SHLAA (Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment) report. This is a hefty document but is worth a read if you are interested in the Council’s long term thoughts on where houses could be built. It does consider, with caveats, options for the green belt in our Area (see pages 30, 31). Hence the need for us to assess & include all green belt land in our Plan.

The rearranged Toton and Chilwell Meadows CAT meeting will be held on Thursday 22 March at 7.30pm at Toton Methodist Church

 Friends of Toton Fields are holding their annual ‘spring clean’ of Toton Fields on Sunday 25th March between 10.00 and 12.00 noon at Greenwood Centre, Chester Green. If you can spare a couple of hours, please come along and help tidy up the reserve. You can also have a look at the new ponds that have been created as well as the newly constructed / improved paths

And that is more than enough for this week. Another lengthy edition, I’m afraid, but I wanted to keep you informed of our work plan for the next 6 months. Please stick your hand up if you’d like to help us in this task – it will be much appreciated. 

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