Here is the final version of the KARA's objection letter to the main modifications forwarded to Ashfield D.C. Friday 10/08/2018.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Roy for all the hard work and effort he has put in on behalf of the whole KARA membership.
KARA KIRKBY AREA RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION
Kirkby in Ashfield,
Forward Planning Team Ashfield District Council Urban Road Kirkby-in-Ashfield Nottingham NG17 8DA
9 August 2018
Ashfield Local Plan Publication – Main Modifications Consultation, June 2018
I write to submit the following formal objection with regard to proposed Modification MM55, on behalf of the Kirkby Area Residents’ Association (KARA). KARA considers that the Modified Local Plan is not sound as it has not been positively prepared and it is not justified. KARA considers that the modification will not be effective and that it is not consistent with national planning policy, as development of the Mowlands site would not constitute sustainable development.
Kara objects strongly to the proposed Modification MM55 for the reasons set out in detail below and disputes the conclusions of the modified Sustainability Appraisal. KARA maintains its view that development of the Mowlands site would not constitute ‘sustainable development’ as defined in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
KARA was formed in 2010 as a single issue action group to oppose the proposed development of land to the west of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, south of the A38. KARA has an adopted constitution, elected officers and an elected committee. KARA’s objection is supported by 574 local people who live in the area and will be affected by the emerging Local Plan. Names and addresses of the supporters were made available at the Local Plan Examination.
Proposed Modification MM55
Policy SKA3al: Mowlands would not mitigate the environmental harm that would be caused by development of the Mowlands site. The proposed policy is inadequate for the following reasons:
Clause b (i): Ashfield District By-pass Meadows Local Wildlife Site
Translocation of the wildlife site is almost certain to fail. It has been designated as it is an existing wildlife feature that should be protected. It exists in that location because conditions are right there. If wildlife sites could be translocated, which effectively means re-creating them, there would be no need to protect such sites in the first place.
Clause b (ii): Mitigation of negative impact a highway scheme access route via Cow Pastures Lane would have on Kirkby Cross Conservation Area.
This clause acknowledges that the highway scheme would have a negative impact. The impact would not just be on the Conservation Area. It would affect listed buildings. It is a statutory duty for the Council to protect the setting of listed buildings (section 66). It would also seriously harm the setting and immediate surroundings of the Kirkby Cross scheduled monument. It is not possible to mitigate the impact of the highly inappropriate highway scheme presented at the Examination, so the mitigation clause would not be effective.
Clause b (iii): Access route via the allotments off Sutton Road
The Council made it clear at the Examination that this option was not under consideration. Therefore, presenting it as a possibility at this stage is disingenuous. If the allotments were to be relocated within the new development, the existing allotment holders would be put to considerable unnecessary inconvenience.
Clause c: Requirement to provide a Heritage Statement regarding the impact on the significance of heritage assets
This would be a case of shutting the door after the horse has bolted. The Council and the Inspector should have regard to the impact on heritage assets in preparing the Plan. Consideration of the impact should not be put off until a later stage. If the Mowlands site is allocated, planning permission will be inevitable. Provision of a heritage statement that identifies harm at the planning application stage would not be able to undo the allocation. Therefore, this proposed policy would be ineffective.
Clause d: Retention of hedgerows and hedgerow trees
It would not be possible to retain the hedgerows and trees that line the narrow and attractive Cowpasture Lane if vehicular access was taken along it. The narrow lane would have to be substantially widened, which would destroy its bordering hedgerows and trees, as made clear on the access plan that was presented at the Examination. It was confirmed at the Examination that the prospective developers have made legal arrangements with the owners of property on Cowpasture Lane to allow the widening to form the access. No other access to Sutton Road is under consideration. It is inevitable that the hedgerows and trees that line the lane would be destroyed if Mowlands is allocated. Therefore the proposed policy would be ineffective.
Clause e: Primary School
This provision would not mitigate or outweigh the harm that development of Mowlands would cause. There are numerous other potential locations for a primary school that would be less harmful to the environment and would provide better access arrangements.
Clause g (i-v): Design
Provision of landscape buffers and single-storey development around the edges would not mitigate the environmental harm that development of Mowlands would cause. Such measures only have regard to long-distance views from the west and would make no difference to the impact within the site. Development close to the Bore Hill escarpment would destroy its character and appearance from within the site. Buffer zones by their nature are relatively narrow strips of land. Any development within easy walking distance of The Dumbles Ancient Woodland would be a major threat to its survival.
Retention of the existing rights of way across the site would be of no benefit. The existing footpaths provide attractive walks in open countryside with fine views. The rights of way would be transformed into walks through an extensive housing estate with no amenity value whatsoever. The policy would not mitigate an ounce of the harm that development of Mowlands would cause.
Clause (i): Contribution towards public realm projects for Kirkby town centre.
This clause is nothing more than a sop to mitigate the acknowledged harm that the Mowlands development would cause. Mowlands would result in an enormous amount of additional traffic being channelled through Kirkby Town Centre, adding greatly to its current congestion. The best contribution that could be made to Kirkby Town Centre would be to remove the Mowlands allocations from the emerging Local Plan.
Proposed Modification MM55, which would appear to have been included at the behest of the Inspector, fails to mitigate the environmental harm that would be caused by development of the Mowlands site, as summarised below.
The magnesian limestone escarpment that forms a substantial part of the southern and western boundary of the proposed Mowlands allocation together with its associated dip-slope is a major landscape feature of the local environment. The escarpment is highly prominent being visible from the surrounding area and affords panoramic views to the south and west. A stream running south-westwards from Sutton-in Ashfield has cut an attractive tree lined valley into the escarpment, known locally as the Dumbles. A series of steep undulations that fall towards the Dumbles create a highly characteristic and attractive landscape.
The land to the west of Cowpasture Lane (traditionally known as the Cowpastures) and the Dumbles is crossed by a network of lanes and public footpaths and provides a well-used and much enjoyed local amenity. KARA considers that this tract of countryside is one of the area’s greatest environmental assets. Development of this land would result in a massive loss of highly accessible open countryside that provides an extremely valuable amenity for local residents. KARA considers that this landscape should be cherished and protected from development.
Development of the proposed Mowlands site would be in direct conflict with the Publication Local Plan Policy EV11: Protection of Landscape Character, which seeks to resist proposals that have an adverse effect on distinctive landscape character areas.
Agricultural Land Quality
The Mowlands site is Grade 2 agricultural land. There is no Grade I agricultural land in Ashfield. Consequently, the Mowlands site constitutes some of the highest quality agricultural land in the district. Realistic opportunities for development elsewhere on lower grade farmland clearly exist. KARA considers that the Mowlands site should not have been allocated in relation to the agricultural land quality issue alone.
The Publication Local Plan fails to satisfactorily address the difficulties in providing vehicular access to the Mowlands site. It is irresponsible of the Council to allocate such a large development site without being confident that it can be accessed in an appropriate and satisfactory manner. KARA considers that the site has major access problems and that the creation of access roads to serve the Mowlands site would cause serious environmental harm. The access proposals for an access at Kirkby Cross tabled at the Local Plan Examination were more harmful than those included in the current undetermined planning application.
Chapel Street, Victoria Road and Kirkby Town Centre
Related to the question of access to the proposed Mowlands allocation is the issue of the increased traffic that would flow along Chapel Street, Victoria Road and through the already congested Kirkby town centre as a result of access via Kirkby Cross. A road from the A38 to Kirkby Cross would create a convenient and direct route that would allow traffic to flow directly from the heavily trafficked A38 along Chapel Street and Victoria Road and through the already congested Kirkby town centre (and vice versa). This would be a natural vehicular desire line, avoiding congestion at the busy A38-Sutton Road junction. It is far preferable that such traffic stays on the A38 and MARR road, which were built to relieve built-up areas of through traffic. The developer’s proposed road through the Mowlands site would work in reverse – it would relieve the through road and divert traffic through the built-up area. This would be a nonsense.
A road from the A38 to Kirkby Cross would serve as a shortcut to and from the M1 for people living in the Kirkby area. Kirkby town centre is already heavily congested and any significant increase in traffic levels would be intolerable, particularly for those that live along the Chapel Street/Victoria Road (B6020) corridor, which is regularly subject to queuing traffic as things stand.
The extremely harmful effect of a road linking the A38 and Kirkby Cross on the Kirkby Cross Conservation Area, the Kirkby Cross scheduled monument, the nearby Nos.2 & 6 Church Street grade II listed building, and the now closed Waggon & Horses Public House (which would be destroyed) has been discussed above. KARA considers that the suburbanisation of the open fields that form the wider countryside setting of the conservation area and the intrusion of the proposed housing in views towards the conservation area from the open fields and footpaths to the west would result in an adverse, harmful impact. There would also be an adverse impact on views of the fine broach tower of St Wilfrid’s Church from the footpaths that cross the open fields. No consideration is given by the Council to the transformation of the narrow, hedge-lined Cowpasture Lane into a link road. KARA considers that the Council’s SA and the conclusions of the HSSTP are woefully inadequate with regard to impact on heritage assets.
It should be noted that the disgraceful condition of the now closed Waggon & Horses Public House, is entirely due to the actions of the hopeful developers of the Mowlands site, who have acquired the building to demolish it. This was done in the full knowledge that it has been identified by the Council as a building that makes a positive contribution to the townscape of the conservation area and should therefore be retained.
The harm to heritage assets that would result from the developer’s proposed road has been identified by Historic England in its formal consultation response on the current Mowlands planning application. This harm must be given considerable importance and weight in the plan-making process.
KARA does not take issue with the amount of development proposed in the Publication Local Plan – KARA’s concern is limited to the inappropriateness of the Mowlands site to accommodate development. KARA considers that many other possible sites have been discounted that would be more suitable and less environmentally harmful.
For the above reasons, KARA considers that the proposed Modification MM55 is an inadequate, inappropriate and unjustified response to an allocation that would be environmentally harmful and unsustainable. KARA considers that the Modified Ashfield Publication Local Plan remains unsound.
Mike Slack Chairman