Eastwood has been at the centre of a row over greenbelt development and Broxtowe Borough Council’s public consultation to review the release of land.
Critics claim it could threaten land around the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre at a time when a review is “premature”, and calls are being made to warn of the dangers of developing on a known floodplain.
The borough council closed its public consultation on the review on Monday following the approval of over 6,000 new homes in Broxtowe to be built by 2028.
In its consultation documents the council says sites to the north of Eastwood, and particularly around the DH Lawrence Centre, are favourable for development.
One of the preferred lands for development near Mansfield Road scored nine out of 20 in Broxtowe Borough Council’s council’s rationale of greenbelt value.
Consultation documents said: “The sites other than the north and north-east are more important to retain in the greenbelt.
“The site to the north of Eastwood is considered to be better related to the existing settlement in terms of amounting to a smaller incursion into the countryside and better related to the existing built form of Eastwood.”
Ken Matham, who has been assisting Calverton Parish Council with a High Court case to oppose greater Nottingham’s “Core Strategy” for housing development, said by his calculations the Mansfield Road site should have scored 15 – a higher greenbelt value than the rest of Eastwood’s lands according to the BBC consultation.
Mr Matham said: “The flaw in their methodology is that they just look at the value of the field you’re building on but you need to look at the effect on all the fields and woodland around.”
He said a review of the greenbelt locally was “premature”, as 86 per cent of Eastwood’s new homes requirement can be accommodated on urban sites, and 75 per cent in Kimberley.
Margaret Handley, chair of the council, which held a public meeting on the issue on Monday, said: “It’s premature, and pre-empts the production of neighbourhood plans which most town and parish councils are producing.”
Neighbourhood plans give powers to communities to guide development policy, enabling development orders and establishing where new homes are built.
Ms Handley added: “We’re also very concerned about the potential for flooding – I’m told that the land has natural springs and the Coach Drive Estate flooded 2007.”
Mayor of Eastwood Ken Woodhead, Labour, said: “We definitely need new housing in the area. We need accommodation for people, particularly social housing and for the elderly. But we’re doing a lot of Brownfield, that’s what we’re concentrating on because we want to save the greenbelt.”
Developments are ongoing on Walker Street and Church Street, he added.
“We have concerns about Coach Drive and I don’t think they’ll build there because it’s greenbelt.
“We’ve complied with what Broxtowe’s saying because it’s what the government is saying. Every parish has to build so many houses.”
There is also concern that developments would be on a known floodplain and development would increase runoff onto neighbouring estates.
Lisa, whose house on Mansfield Road overlooks the site, said: “We won’t need cars if this stupid idea gets approved, we will all be under 15 feet of water.”
David Amos, who has lived on Coach Drive for 17 years said the area had known flood risks which would be exaccerbated by development.
Nicola, from Giltbrook, said: “The designation of “green belt” isn’t worth the paper it’s written on these days.
“In Giltbrook, a strip of land initially set aside for allotments now has a planning application on it.”
Broxtowe Borough Council leader Milan Radulovic said: “The Core Strategy is government policy. Every party says we need to build more houses.
We have had consultations on this in the double figures but still people moan.
“The object of the greenbelt review is to give the communities the opportunities to be consulted and tell us where and why we should and shouldn’t be allowed to build. We could have easily left this to officers but we decided to involve the public openly and to be criticised for that is ridiculous.”
Regading flood risks he said: “This is why we have the consultation, so they can comment on things like this.
“You’ve got to remember that most of the people who are complaining live in houses which were once green fields.”
KTC councillor Jim McDonald said: “As a member of this community I recognise the great importance of maintaining the greenbelt for the next generation and I believe we should do everything we can to safeguard it for our children.
“The importance of the greenbelt is only matched by the need to ensure that we can provide homes for our citizens, in particular the old, the young and young families setting out in life. These two great and equally important challenges are being faced by communities in every village, town and city in our country.
“The answer to this problem, like many others, is that those that have different views have to communicate with each other and through responsible dialogue, agree a strategy which recognises the value and importance of both of these colossal challenges.”