By Andy Topping, Local Democacy Reporter
Government inspectors have approved a 54-home development – and overturned a decision by local planners
Ashfield District Council refused plans to build the houses on land off Millers Way, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, in October 2020.
Councillors highlighted concerns with transport, the loss of green space and ecological issues – despite council officers officials recommending the plans be approved.
But after visiting the site following an appeal, the Government Planning Inspectorate said the application “should reasonably have been permitted” and reversed the council’s decision.
Council leader Jason Zadrozny (Ind), who represents Summit ward where the homes will be built, claims the decision could hinder the town’s economic regeneration.
He said: “I’m furious! Traffic problems are going to be exacerbated by people waiting to pull into Millers Way for the houses, increasing the number of cars.
“It’s really detrimental, none of the application changes this junction at all. It’s literally just more houses.
“We’re next to it at Ashfield District Council and sometimes you have to wait 10 to 15 minutes to get out.
“It’s not the sort of thing you want when you’re trying to do economic regeneration in the area, like reopening the Maid Marian Line.
“It’s the sort of thing that starts to kill off the town centre, a large number of people don’t want to travel through Kirkby at peak times because it’s gridlocked – and this is going to make it worse.”
As well as transport issues, the council refused the development to protect the habitat of dingy skipper butterflies.
The authority feared losing the land – previously used by Beaufort United Football Club before its relocation – as open space.
However, developer Peveril Homes appealed the refusal on the grounds that its application addressed all concerns raised.
The developer outlined a traffic regulation order which would extend double yellow lines on the Millers Way and Lane End junction, its access point.
Investment was also promised for nearby green spaces to compensate for the lost land.
And considering these factors, Government planning inspector Chris Baxter decided in favour of the developer.
In a 13-page report, he said: “I am satisfied that the proposal would not have a harmful effect on highway safety with particular regard to vehicular access.
“I do not consider that the proposal would increase the footfall within the local wildlife site and the woodland area to the north, to a level that would adversely harm the butterflies and their habitats.
“The proposals, which include the already relocated BUFC and contributions to other recreation facilities in the Kirkby area, would bring significant improvement to the overall quality of recreation provision in the locality.”
He added: “For the reasons given above I conclude that the appeal should be allowed.”