I was going to start this week with another ‘Wow!’ moment but held back because:
- I’ve never yet started with a ‘Wow!’ two weeks running and, to be honest,
- ‘Wow!’ doesn’t begin to describe the ‘Oh Wow!’factor of this week’s update
Given the scale of the news, this is a long report. And immediately following is a separate post from Mark concerning the latest HS2 consultations so please carry on down to that post. However, my contribution (which, given its importance, has been reviewed and added to by Richard – our Chair- and others) is solely focused on:
Broxtowe Council Local Plan Part 2: The Examination Hearings
- A Brief History of the Local Plan Part 2: a recap for old and new readers…
- A draft Plan went out to consultation last autumn and you may recall the Forum undertook a series of consultations in Toton and Chilwell to gather your views and provide feedback. And the Council largely incorporated our recommendations – the most important being the need for a new north / south road through the area to relieve congestion onStapleford Lane.
- The only bone of contention remaining between us (it’s too strong to call it a ‘disagreement’) relates to the importance of wildlife corridors and the widths these corridors need to be to accommodate wildlife, footpaths & cycleways. The Plan is the key document that sets the policy requirements for all building development in the Borough. All developers (inc householders wanting extensions etc) must comply with the Plan to obtain planning permission.
- It has taken well over 2 years to produce this version and it builds on the Aligned Core Strategy (produced in 2014) which stated that Broxtowe needs a total of 6,150 new homes during the Plan period – up to 2028.
- The final version of the Plan was signed-off by the Council in July and it is now being reviewed by a government appointed Examiner to take final submissions from stakeholders – mostly landowners and developers.
- Impact of the Plan on our Area
- There are two Plan policies that directly affect our patch:
- We are also interested in Policy 28, Green Infrastructure Assets, which covers Green Infrastructure Corridors. We want to see this policy strengthened to ensure corridors are wide enough to cater for wildlife. This hearing takes place next week so I’ll report again on this.
- Policy 3.1 Chetwynd Barracks
- The hearing took place on Thursday morning and went well. A couple of issues arose but overall, we agree with the main component: that the site can deliver 500 in the Plan period (by 2028) with the capacity for 1,500 homes overall.
- The figure 1,500 sounds a lot but given the size of the MoD owned site is 75 hectares (ha), it means an average density of 20 homes per ha. This is pretty low figure (traditional estates are circa 30 per ha) so it means a garden village type feel can be created. Even more importantly, it means we can protect and enhance the decent tracts of green space on the site such as Hobgoblin Wood, the Memorial Gardens, the sports field at the south-east corner as well as other pockets of green space
- The big surprise from the morning was that the DIO are considering (note: ‘considering’) releasing the land to the west of the site before 2021 to allow fast build-out of the green area behind the Army Reserve Centre
- The DIO said they will have completely left the site by 2021 but the possible earlier release of some of the land is interesting.
- It was also agreed that a strategic masterplan of the whole site – indeed the whole area including Toton Strategic Growth Area (SGA) – was needed before individual bits, such as the first 500 homes, were given planning permission.
- Policy 3.2 Toton Strategic Growth Area: the proposal for site capacity
- It was this hearing (Thurs afternoon) that released the bombshell.
- And – to get quickly to the point – the bombshell concerns the overall number of homes that both Borough and County councils believes the SGA can accommodate:
- Broxtowe Borough believe it has a capacity for 3,000 dwellings
- Notts County believes the capacity could be as much as 3,500
- Added to the Barracks figure of 1,500 and the overall number is up to 5,000 for our Area
- Okay, these are big numbers – huge in fact – but there are some caveats that need to be made clear:
- The SGA site includes the land to the west of HS2, i.e. between the station and the River Erewash. So, the overall size is 154 ha
- Broxtowe’s calculation is based on a density 20 dwellings per ha (20*154 = 3,000). Average estate density is 30 dwellings per ha, so there should be plenty of room for green space, roads and other infrastructure
- Notts County believe the advent of the HS2 Station will naturally result in an uplift of circa 500 more dwellings. This is based on experience elsewhere, and York was quoted as an example
- To re-iterate: this is site capacity being assessed. It is not policy and it certainly doesn’t mean these numbers will actually be built.
- Final caveat; it is acknowledged it will take time to complete the build out of whatever number is finally agreed – up to 2043 is the County’s estimate. So, there is plenty for time to discuss the final mix of dwellings alongside (lest we forget) the commercial properties in the Innovation Village.
- Policy 3.2 Toton Strategic Growth Area: Peveril’s existing planning permission
- The other main outcome from the afternoon session was that Peveril are keen to build houses asap on the Toton Lane site and Broxtowe is keen to see 500 homes built
- It looks as though agreement will be reached for some (but less than the number in the current planning consent) to be built towards the southern part of the site and (and this is new) some on a portion of the land east of Toton Lane. We knew the east side would be developed sometime, but it looks as though it will be sooner rather than later.
- We remain adamant we expect to see a decent green infrastructure corridor created immediately to the north of housing on Cleve Ave / Katherine Drive. And, to be fair, the Council fully support this objective, stating this ‘corridor along the southern boundary [of the SGA site] remains fundamental to the whole allocation.’
- And finally…..the good news:
- The Forum participated (Richard represented us) in both of these examinations. We reviewed the hearing papers and raised a number of issues for review and clarification during the round-table discussions. The Examiner acknowledged our contributions were interesting and valuable – including raising useful points she was unaware of.
- More importantly the Examiner asked the council to review elements of the policies relating to the Barracks and SGA and recommended the following:
- An overarching Strategic Master Plan is required to encompass both the Barracks and the SGA before any new houses are built. All stakeholders need to be involved in this work: the Forum was explicitly included.
- Regarding the Barracks, she wanted the Borough Council to meet with the DIO and the Forum to collectively iron out remaining areas of contention in Policy 3.1. Any item not resolved at this meeting will be adjudicated by the Examiner
- Regarding the SGA, the same approach will be adopted i.e. the Council, Forum and landowners (or their agents) will quickly meet to resolve outstanding issues in Policy 3.2. Again, the Examiner will adjudicate on items that remain unresolvable.
- These may sound small points, but they are significant. The Examiner acknowledged the Forum is a relevant stakeholder and that we must participate in these discussions / workshops.
- Don’t forget, the Local Plan runs until 2028 and 1,000 new dwellings are expected in our Area. All numbers over and above that will need to be fully discussed and consulted on, before going through standard planning process.
These are the headlines that came out last Thursday. We knew the 3,500 figure was going to be released as the councils briefed us a week ago, but we didn’t know the basis for their calculations until now.
Clearly, we need time to absorb the long-term numbers. As a Forum – as a community – it is good to have these numbers out in the open, so we can work together and endeavour to ensure appropriate infrastructure (roads, schools etc.) is built in advance.
But, when all is said and done, 5,000 remains a gobsmackingly huge number!
This has been a long report and I’m glad you’ve managed to make it to the end! Don’t forget to read Mark’s HS2 consultation post below.
Broxtowe Lotto: tickets available from our CTTC Forum page where you’ll also find details of the scheme