Philip Oddie is a member of Willow Farm Action Group and a resident in Gedling. He wonders where our children will be educated if the council continues with their housing strategy…
Gedling Borough Council have recently been gaining coverage in the local press regarding the adoption of their Local Plan, which will result in over 7000 new homes being built across the Borough by 2028.
The tone is celebratory and we are told by Councillor Jenny Hollingsworth that the Plan will “allow us to provide much-needed new homes, encourage economic growth and support regeneration”.
Let us pause for a moment and reflect on what this actually means for the existing residents of the Borough and the ‘cost’ that we will all have to pay in supporting this regeneration.
This Local Plan will result in 1900 new homes being built on green belt land with the loss of the fields and green spaces that we, the public, value so highly; additional traffic generated by over 7000 new homes on our already heavily congested roads; 10 years of construction noise, dust and disturbance and the additional demand for services from these developments being placed on local GP surgeries and schools, which are already at capacity.
There is a housing crisis looming in the Borough, but not from a shortage of ‘much-needed’ housing but by the unprecedented scale of development that may well overwhelm local services and will certainly have a detrimental impact for years to come on the lives of those of us who currently live within the Borough.
Of course we need new housing, but it is the sheer scale of the developments and an approach by the Council, which is underpinned by the relentless pursuit of housing targets at all costs, risks the loss of so much of what we like about living in the Borough.
Be under no illusion, what the Council are intending will transform the character of the place in which we live forever and I, for one, am not confident that we will emerge from this into a better place to live than we have now.
One of the primary concerns for so many local residents within Gedling and I feel sure that this is also the case throughout the Borough, is a lack of school places. Parents should reasonably expect therefore that the Council’s Local Plan will ensure that there are sufficient school places available at the right time for those children who already live in the Borough, as well as for those who will occupy the new homes however, this is simply not the case.
According to the Chase Farm planning application the development, once complete, is expected to generate the demand for 221 primary places and 168 secondary places and the County Council noted at the time of the application that, based on their projections, primary and secondary schools were at capacity and would not be able to accommodate the demand for additional primary and secondary places arising from this development. For this reason a new primary school is due to be built at Chase Farm.
Phase One of the Chase Farm development will result in 506 homes being built and yet, despite being aware of this fact, the Council have accepted that the new Chase Farm Primary School will not be constructed until Phase Two. The question we are left to ponder is where exactly will the children from these 506 homes be educated? The position is also further exacerbated by the fact that there are proposals to build other large housing developments within Gedling at Willow Farm (110 homes) and Linden Grove (115 homes) which, if planning permission is granted, are due to start construction in 2020.
I can’t help but have a feeling of dread about the direction of travel proposed by Gedling Borough Council, which I would compare to standing on the edge of a cliff with Councillor Hollingsworth who is telling me to trust her and to take a leap of faith because everything will be all right.
Gedling Borough Council were given the opportunity to respond to Philip’s piece and issued the following statement.
It read: “Gedling Borough Council is working closely with Nottinghamshire County Council as the Education Authority to ensure that sufficient school places are provided in order to meet the likely demand for school places arising from developments in the Carlton area.
“The County Council has the statutory responsibility to ensure there are sufficient school places available each year through extending or reorganising existing schools as well as ensuring new primary schools are provided where the existing school estate cannot be extended.
“The need for a new primary school in the area to be located on the Gedling Colliery site was identified in the Gedling Borough Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) and Addendum October 2016. This IDP evidence based document informed the Local Planning Document which has since been endorsed by an independent planning inspector. Subsequently, Gedling Borough Council, County Council and the developer Keepmoat have entered into an agreement that allows the new school to be planned, designed and built in a phased manner as the housing on the site is steadily progressed and the demand for school places arises.
They added: “The agreement identifies key trigger points in terms of limits on the amount of homes which can be occupied at which point the developer is required to make financial contributions and to hand over a fully serviced site to the County Council. The intention is to have a shovel ready site available well in time to meet the necessary demand well before the development is complete. The County Council would also be undertaking the necessary planning and procurement work for the construction of the new primary school in parallel with the development of the site to ensure that the new primary is delivered in a timely manner.