By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
A Nottinghamshire council has been granted Government consent to change the use of land so new social housing can be named after a fallen soldier.
Ashfield District Council has been told by ministers it can reclassify old allotment land, in Central Avenue, Kirkby, as part of new housing plans.
The authority wants to change the land into a development of council homes and to name it after Kirkby soldier Rifleman Adrian Sheldon.
Rifleman Sheldon, 25, was killed in an explosion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in May 2009 following several years of service.
He grew up in the town and took part in Cubs, Scouts and later the Army Cadets before joining the 2nd Battalion The Rifles in March 2001.
Plans to name a street in his memory were first unveiled in February this year and were described by his family at the time as an “honour and privilege”.
Now the Ashfield Independent-led council has been given permission to reclassify the land so it can be converted into social homes.
Cllr Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind) is the council’s leader and confirmed the plans at the authority’s cabinet meeting on Monday (September 18).
In the meeting, he said: “This is actually the site of quite a lot of derelict garages but, ironically and oddly, it’s classified partly as allotment land.
“The Secretary of State has now given us permission to reclassify this and to redevelop it for something positive, which is new social housing.
“I’m really pleased to confirm we are working with the family of Adrian Sheldon to name the development after him.
“His mother and father are very pleased about it, we’ve given them the remit of picking exactly how the naming works so we don’t know, yet, what that’ll be.
“He’s, of course, resting at Kingsway Cemetery and grew up here, so it’s a very fitting area and it’s nice to do two positive things out of one old garage site.”
The project is part of a drive by the council to build more social homes, with a target exceeding 200 new properties set by the end of the current council term in 2027.
Cllr Andy Meakin (Ash Ind), who represents the Abbey Hill ward in Kirkby, added in the meeting: “I’ve known [the Sheldon] family all my life.
“I knew Adrian when he was first born and I grew up beside his dad as next-door neighbours. This is really poignant and really nice.”
Mark Sheldon, Rifleman Sheldon’s father, previously said the renaming would give his family, friends and ex-servicemen another way to remember him.
He is now in charge of how the renaming will work and, in February, the engineer told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It’s incredible.
“The suggestion came about from other people who wanted to do something for Adrian.
“It really hits your heart, people still think and care.
“Many a time we’ve gone up to the cemetery and there’s been somebody who served with him, who knew him and I think this will give them somewhere else to go and reflect on.
“We’re honoured and privileged that the community and the council have come forward with this suggestion.
“It helps his name live on and makes you feel a bit humbled that people want to do that for him.”
He also said the proposed location “couldn’t be in a more perfect spot”, with the Rifleman’s burial place at the cemetery, the war memorial and his old school all within walking distance.
The authority will now work on bringing forward the development.
Papers do not confirm how many homes will be built but do say the plans are needed “to ensure there is sufficient housing” for local needs.