KARA: suggested response to Local Plan Modifications

Ashfield Local Plan Publication – Main Modifications Consultation, June 2018

As you may have heard, the Council is consulting on proposed Modifications to the emerging Ashfield Local Plan.

The key change that affects Mowlands is Modification MM55 which includes an additional Policy SKA3al: Mowlands.  This attempts to mitigate the harm that the Mowlands Development would cause.  The implication is that all will be fine if the provisions of the policy are complied with.  This is of course nonsense.

The information on the Council’s website is very difficult to follow.  The proposed Modification relating to Mowlands is in a document called: SCHEDULE OF PROPOSED MAIN MODIFICATIONS TO THE ASHFIELD PUBLICATION LOCAL PLAN, JUNE 2018.  Modification MM55 is on pages 63-66.

The Council advises people to respond on a rather complicated form.  This may well be designed to put people off from objecting.  KARA recommends that you write your own letter or email.

KARA realises that people are getting fed up of sending objection letters to the Council but if no objections or only low numbers are received, it will be assumed that the latest modifications overcome people’s concerns.  Therefore, it is essential to write again.

Representations must be received no later than 5.00 pm on 10th August 2018.

KARA suggests that you include the content set out below.  The first paragraph is particularly important.  You may want to add some of your own thoughts.  Make sure that you include your name and address.

Objections to the Main Modifications, June 2018 should be sent:

  • By post to: Ashfield District Council, Forward Planning Team, Urban Road, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottingham, NG17 8DA.

Dear Sir/Madam

I object to Proposed Modification MM55 as it has not been positively prepared and it is not justified.  It will not be effective and it is not consistent with national planning policy, as development of the Mowlands site would not constitute sustainable development.

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.

Yours faithfully