Councillor Martin Plackett replies to the Liberal Democrate Focus

Martin Plackett

I too was disappointed that the Council had reluctantly agreed to further build on Greenbelt, not least in Bramcote. The current Conservative administration had however little choice.

Over many years during the formulation of the aligned core strategy the then Conservative opposition argued strongly to no avail, that a figure of 6150 houses for the Borough was far too high over the plan period.  The Liberal Democrat/ Labour Council by excepting this figure would inevitably require the allocation of Greenbelt sites for building.

Upon taking control in 2015 the new Conservative administration immediately took independent legal advice regarding the Toton housing allocation and the overall figure but were told it was not possible to change it. In other words we had to abide by the 6150 figure and had to work to it, and despite our continuing best efforts to build on brown field sites some Greenbelt would have to be allocated. On taking office the land at Field Farm had already been given outline planning permission. The only thing left for the incoming Conservative administration was to deal with detailed planning issues. The Greenbelt at Toton had already been included for development, however we were able to cap the number to 500 rather than the 800 the outgoing administration were considering.

Importantly the previous administration had left the Borough without a 5 year land supply and an indifferent record of numbers of completions, hence the need to allocate four Greenbelt sites giving the Council that all important and statutory 5 year land supply. The sites in Awsworth, Brinsley, Bramcote and in Stapleford behind the crematorium were according to the report commissioned by the previous Coaltion before 2015 the most sustainable. Important to remember that without a 5 year land supply a rejection of a planning application on any Greenbelt may have been overturned on an appeal by an Inspector and indeed the loss of planning control by the Council.

Returning to Bramcote as I said in a previous post there are many positives emulating from this decision, a 5 year land supply will give protection to the many swathes of Bramcote’s Greenbelt,such as below Bluebell Hill Woods and off Common Lane. Local protected Green Space for the Moor Lane playing fields and our beautiful Bramcote Park, and potential leisure facilities on the School site. The opportunity for the Neighbourhood Forum to offer suggestions in their Plan for the type of housing off Coventry Lane together with plans for enhanced and new green infrastructure in the immediate area. Not least a brand new state of art School fit for the 21st century for Bramcote’s children and grandchildren, paid for by the sale of the surplus to requirements land off Coventry Lane for much needed housing development.

Indeed a difficult inherited situation, but hard to imagine any serious alternative proposals.

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13 Responses to Councillor Martin Plackett replies to the Liberal Democrate Focus

  1. Tony Harper says:

    You are exactly right Martin the conservatives could only work with the mess they had been left with by the labour/libdem coalition. Too many houses had been promised which even they could not build. We are now paying the price for their poor decisions

  2. Ian Blakeley says:

    Interesting article Martin, somewhat different to the usual “you did that, no we didn’t, it’s all your fault” that tends to dominate BT pages. (I point no fingers).

    However a question. You write about a statutory 5 year land supply and overturning, on appeal, of unsuccessful planning applications if there is an insufficient amount of building land. Am I correct in thinking that because of this the council are going to have to ‘top-up’ every year to replace land that has been approved for building. Where are they going to find such ‘brown and non-green’ land?

    So it seems logical that eventually the council are going to have to allocate ‘green’ land eventually (probably sooner than later), who’s fault will that be I wonder?

  3. Steve Carr says:

    When the first stage of the Core Strategy was passed, there was a 5 year land supply. To be fair to the Conservatives (because I like Martin) they have experienced the same issues we did whilst in office. Not being able to get the brownfield sites like Boots brought into play sooner.

  4. Eric Kerry says:

    Cllr Plackett has explained the full history behind the disappointing position the current Broxtowe Council found itself with respect to protecting green belt and green space. Proposals for achieving a 5 year land supply across the Borough were recently approved and are going through the process, which has been kept fully open and consultative in difficult circumstances. Well done Martin for the positive way in which you work with all local residents, irrespective of their views.

  5. Lee F says:

    Well done Cllr Plackett on concentrating on the positive aspects and how you, alongside other Councillors, can work together to make the decision flourish into something positive.

  6. Martin

    You say: “The Greenbelt at Toton had already been included for development, however we were able to cap the number to 500 rather than the 800 the outgoing administration were considering.”

    Are these the 300 houses that we are to be asked to consider accomodating in Bramcote’s green belt?

    Paul

  7. Graham Heal says:

    Cllr Plackett ends his article with: “Indeed a difficult inherited situation, but hard to imagine any serious alternative proposals.” Well, yes, but the situation (the 6150 housing allocation) was a ‘known, known’ to coin a phrase. So why did the Conservatives pledge (so rashly) to protect/fight/save the green belt when they clearly had no serious alternative proposals to offer?

    After all, the attempt to overturn the Core Strategy via a legal challenge was always doomed to fail since it was entirely predictable that the strategy would be found to be a ‘sound’ document and that due process had been followed in putting it together.

    So the Conservatives made a pledge that was always likely to be broken – as Steve Carr mentions above – bringing forward sufficient brown field sites in good time is never easy. Perhaps they will be more circumspect at the next election.

    They could always take a leaf out of Ms Soubry’s book since she pledged in 2015 ‘to fight to protect the green belt – from unwanted development’. Always the pragmatist!

    • Steve Carr says:

      Spot on Graham Heal. The Conservatives contributed nothing to the Core Strategy at all. They refused to attend meetings and offered no alternatives. Peculiar behaviour for a party expecting to take control of the Council.

  8. Paul Nathanail says:

    Graham,

    Perhaps the present AND previous council could have delivered densities nearer the 40/ hectare that Broxtowe’s planning policies requires?

    I quote (*):
    “Policy H6 provides density requirements for residential development: where
    development is within 400m walking distance of frequent public transport services
    a minimum density of 40 dwellings per hectare is required (or 45 dwellings per
    hectare where there is a choice of public transport modes) and, if the distance is
    beyond 400m, 35 dwellings per hectare.”

    cheers,

    Paul

    (*) The policy above was reported by the Director of Legal and Planning Services in January 2017 in the context of the Stapleford Aldi Store – Housing development. https://www.broxtowe.gov.uk/media/2723/agenda-11-january-2017.pdf

  9. Ian Tyler says:

    Well batted on a sticky wicket, much wind and water, a Quixotic approach and support from Tory Cllrs we have rarely heard from.
    The reality the Lib/Lab administration faced finally dawned, your colleagues convenient/ cynical bandwagon finally lost its wheels.
    Best wishes,
    Ian

  10. ANTONY PAUL SMITH says:

    As a long term Bramcote resident and ex pupil of Bramcote Hills Grammar School, I too am very concerned about the loss of our Greenbelt/space. However with the choice left to the current Broxtowe Council, the use of the Coventry Lane playing fields as a housing development does at least enable funds to be made available for a new School to replace the ones that have reached the end of their useful lives.
    Together with the now protected Greenspace of the Moor Lane playing fields and Bramcote Park and possible new leisure facilities, I feel this is an excellent decision under the circumstances. Had this new housing not been agreed to, I feel assured the Government Building Inspector would have made far more drastic decisions.
    Hopefully the Council and The Bramcote Neighbourhood Forum can now work together and achieve what is best for the area.
    Tony

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