I’m starting this week’s update with another ‘WOW!’ moment. Longstanding readers know I (very) occasionally let rip with a ‘wow’ at times of high drama and this is no exception. Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State (SoS) for Housing, Communities and Local Government visited Stapleford last Friday during which he made time to meet our chairman, Richard, to learn about our ambitions for our Area. When it comes to promoting our cause at the highest levels, we cannot go any higher than the Secretary of State for Housing!
In other news, we have also met with Homes England and have made great progress in improving our Plan. More on these – and much else – below.
1. Meeting #1: SoS Robert Jenrick
- The SoS was in Stapleford last Friday primarily to meet local people concerning the new Towns Fund and how Stapleford could access investment funding up to £25m to improve the town (see ‘And finally…’ below for more).
- During his time in Stapleford he kindly agreed to meet (albeit briefly) Richard to learn about our plans for the Area and in particular our aspirations for the Barracks. Richard explained the Forum wanted to see the site developed as a blueprint neighbourhood (Garden Village) – one that can be replicated elsewhere in the country. Richard went on to say that we wanted the chance to become a stakeholder in developing the site in order to see our ideas (some of them, at least) implemented
- The SoS was supportive of our ambitions and agreed to consider how best to provide us with the resources we need to build our business case and become a credible participant when the time comes to develop the site.
- The SoS took away with him a copy of our draft Neighbourhood Plan as well as a copy of our detailed thoughts for the Barracks – a condensed version of which was included in the Council’s application to the Garden Communities fund submitted over 12 months ago.
- We want to thank our MP, Darren Henry, for arranging this meeting with Robert Jenrick on our behalf. It was extremely useful, and we look forward to working with Darren to access the resources we need, as mentioned by the SoS. So, as I am prone to say,…. Watch this space!
2. Meeting #2: DIO and Homes England
- The previous Friday (Jan 10th) we finally met up with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and Homes England. You don’t need reminding that we have been chasing this meeting for several months, so you won’t be surprised to learn the meeting was a little tense at times as we vented our frustrations over the delay. However, we agreed we all needed to draw a line under the last 12 months and start afresh.
- The purpose of the meeting was for the DIO to introduce us to Homes England, their new partner in bringing the Barracks forward for development. The formal agreement between the DIO and Homes England was finalised last November. The result is that Homes England will take the lead role in the managing project with the DIO maintaining oversight and overall governance. Homes England have put together a small project team and we will be liaising with this team on an ongoing basis.
- Homes England’s first task is to appoint consultants to undertake the detailed surveys and Masterplanning work for the site. The tender process for this appointment will take several weeks; they advised us they don’t expect to make an announcement on the outcome of the process before April.
- As a result, we expect our next meeting with Homes England will take place after the consultants have been appointed and their terms for reference formulated – perhaps early summer. Nevertheless, it is good to re-establish a relationship with a key landowner in our Area, and we look forward to building on this first meeting with Homes England.
3. Meeting #3: Steering Group and AGM planning
- The full Steering Group held its first meeting of the year and the main topic of the evening was planning our next Annual General Meeting. The key details for your diary are:
- Date: Sunday 29th March from 2pm (AGM will start at 3pm)
- Location: The Village Hotel – although this has to be confirmed
- Agenda: Apart from the standard reports and appointment of the new Steering Group, there will be a report on our revised Plan which will be submitted to the Council. We intend to have display boards showing both our key maps as well as our key aspirations and ‘red lines’ for the Area.
- We are also hoping to arrange a keynote speaker. We have thrown a couple of names in the pot, so we’ll work hard to get one of them along.
- More details when we get things finalised, but please put the date in your diary: you know how much we appreciate your support as demonstrated over the last 2 years.
4. The Plan’s Progress – revisited
- We have made great progress in revising the Plan and incorporating the positive changes submitted during the consultation held last summer. A subgroup of the Steering Group has met three times so far and another three are scheduled over the coming weeks.
- Sections A and B have been revised – this was a pretty straightforward task. It just involved some tightening up (more precision) of words and phrases used to remove (hopefully) all ambiguity.
- Section C – the policies are mostly reviewed and redrafted where necessary. Our focus over the next couple of weeks will be completing what is the most important part of the Plan.
- Section D has seen the most radical change to the draft version. This section caused a bit of confusion with a number of stakeholders who believed it contained specific policies relating to the Barracks. Whereas our intention was to lay down some principles we wanted to see adopted in the masterplan. Anyway, we have revamped the layout and broadened the scope to include the whole of our Area rather than just the Barracks. We’ve also agreed to reorder the sections (swapped sections C and D around) so that the Plan ‘flows’ more naturally from vision and objectives, through to broad masterplan aspirations and principles, leading finally to our detailed policies. More on this in future editions
5. And finally…..
- Leisure Facilities consultation. The Council is consulting on the provision of its Leisure services and are asking residents to complete a short survey to gather views. Here is a link to the survey and we’d encourage you to take part and ‘have your say’! As you know, the Forum is pushing hard to have a new Leisure Centre built in our Area, somewhere close to the Toton Lane tram stop.
- Stapleford Town consultation. Following on from the first item this week, the Council are also asking residents to let them know what improvements they would like to see included in Stapleford’s ‘Town Investment Plan’ which will then bid for funds from the Towns Fund. There are 3 main themes involved: a) Urban Regeneration; b) Skills and enterprise infrastructure; and c) Connectivity (local transport schemes etc.). Here is a link to the Council’s consultation page ( which contains a further link to the actual survey) if you’d like to take part.
- Forthcoming meeting. There is a Strategic Planning Group meeting being next week. You will recall this Group feeds into the main Toton Delivery Board and both Richard and Ian attend on behalf of the Forum and our CIC. The Group hasn’t met for a while so it will be interesting to learn what progress has been main with their Masterplanning work for the Toton Lane area – more on this next time
I won’t mention the review of HS2 and whether or not the government will give it the green light. Apart from reiterating the Forum’s position – we have built the Plan on the basis HS2 will come to Toton. However, we know that regardless of HS2 our Area faces significant development over the next 20 years, and we need to be prepared for it. So even if HS2 is cancelled, our Plan still has enormous value as the policies will be needed to cover whatever may replace it.
A long report this week so I’ll stop now and see you next time
Broxtowe Lotto: tickets available from our CTTC Forum page where you’ll also find details of the scheme.