Barbara Bakewell, a local resident and a founder member of the Toton Environment Protection Society (TEPS) has provided the following account of the group to explain the work of TEPS as a backdrop to the formation of our Neighbourhood Forum
After retirement I settled into a much more low key existence until a land speculator illegally felled over 2,200 trees on Toton sidings, a beautiful wild Green Belt area much loved by myself and other local people. Incensed by this wanton destruction I, along with my husband and a small group of local residents, re-formed ‘Toton Environment Protection Society’, (TEPS), and organised a local meeting to which over 350 residents attended. As a result of this meeting and follow up work with the Forestry Commission we managed to get a re-forestation order and a 5 year halt on any development on the land to allow the trees to self re-generate. This has happened but of course the sidings land is now in danger from potential HS2 developments, a project I strongly oppose. (I am yet to be convinced of the economic benefits such an expensive project would bring to the Country weighed up against the widespread environmental destruction which will be left in its wake). If it should come to fruition, the Neighbourhood Forum needs to ensure any potential is maximised for local people.
Other work TEPS core group have worked on have been, successful designation of Rights of Way throughout the sidings land, an application for Town and Village Green for the sidings which after 5 years got through to public Inquiry stage but then was denied, a 2,000+ signed petition collected, a strong media push and resident pressure at one point persuading Broxtowe Borough Council to remove the Green Belt land West of Toton Lane as a preferred site for development. After news of HS2, this land was re-instated but we believe pressure from local residents led by TEPS resulted in the reduction of housing numbers from over 1,000 to 500 and more consideration given to environmental issues such as retaining a viable wildlife corridor and additional tree planting in an attempt to offset additional pollution which is already very high in the area
These examples do show the influence local people can exert to try to ensure residents can shape the sort of environment in which they live. The Government have talked for many years about ‘localism’. The formation of a Neighbourhood Forum gives us, as residents, the chance to have a strong but positive dialogue with planners about how our neighbourhood should look in the future.
The news about the future release of Chetwynd Barracks for development gave another impetus to the drive for the formation of a Neighbourhood Forum to help shape the future of the Toton and Chilwell Meadows, an area which is to potentially undergo a huge amount of development. Green belt land West of Stapleford Lane already has outline planning and we need to influence this at the detailed stage, land East of Stapleford Lane adjacent to the tram terminus has been mooted as development potential to support HS2 along with the majority of the sidings land. Rather than focus purely on the Barracks, I feel strongly that residents need to look at Toton and Chilwell Meadows as a whole, ensure that any proposed developments are sustainable, that necessary infrastructure is considered and put in place before any developments are delivered and ensure that the environment is protected for the well being of present and future generations.
I love Toton and I want to help ensure that the release of Chetwynd is not used by the Council to fulfil more than our fair share of housing targets but instead work with them to create a safe, vibrant and environmentally rich neighbourhood.