Green Light For 525 Green Belt Houses

It’s just been officially confirmed that dozens of acres of Ruddington’s precious Green Belt, at four locations on the edge of our village, have been given the government’s blessing to be sacrificed for new housing development.

It’s after Rushcliffe’s ‘Local Plan Part 2: Land and Planning Policies’, as submitted for examination, was declared “legally compliant and sound” by the HM Government Planning Inspector – albeit subject to a number of minor modifications which he has recommended. The long awaited verdict means that the Green Belt sites chosen by Rushcliffe Borough Council (RBC) here and elsewhere in the Borough (including the farmland west of Wilford Road pictured above) will now lose their historic, protected status.

First, a little history…

To meet Government targets for new homes, in August last year the three Ruddington sites favoured by RBC were submitted to Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government after years of consultations with residents, businesses and other organisations involving both the Borough Council and Ruddington Parish Council (RPC). The end result was a proposed allocation of 350 new houses over three sites – 100 more than originally mooted – shown on the map below (in blue). However, even BEFORE the plan was submitted to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate, RBC’s rejection of a fourth site for 175 homes off Asher Lane (not included in their final plan) was unexpectedly overturned in May 2018 by Chief Planning Inspector Nick Fagan after a appeal by the landowners was allowed.

The RBC allocations were:-

  • RUD01 – Land west of Wilford Road (with Sellors’ Playing Field removed) – 130 houses
  • RUD05 – Land South of Flawforth Lane – 50 houses
  • RUD13 – Land opposite Mere Way – 170 houses

Adding this total of 350 houses to the fourth site RUD07 – Land at Asher Lane (shown in red) – now approved for 175 houses – the spectre of 525 houses having to be accommodated on our village Green Belt loomed large. Despite this, RBC decided NOT to remove any of the previously allocated Ruddington housing from its plan before submitting it for the mandatory “Examination into the soundness of the Rushcliffe Local Plan Part 2: Land & Planning Policies”.

In December 2018 face-to-face “roundtable” hearings then took place at Rushcliffe Arena, with Senior Planning Inspector Philip Lewis BA (Hons) MA MRTPI – a last chance for concerned residents, groups and bodies looking for a change to the Plan to get their points across. Representatives from RPC, Ruddington Action Group (RAG)Ruddington Community Association (RCA) and Protect Ruddington – as well as property developers and landowners poised to make the most of whatever came their way – all had their say. Those from Ruddington spoke with one voice in complaining the housing allocation was now too much – with even RAG now specifically calling for RUD01 to be the area removed from the plans, due to it being the least suitable of the three sites.

In May 2019 RBC released another consultation document on “Proposed Main Modifications to Local Plan Part 2” which formally increased Ruddington’s Green Belt Housing Allocation from 350 to to 525 new homes by officially including Asher Lane within the total, as shown on its latest map below:

The sites were also renamed Policy 6.1 to Policy 6.4 rather than RUD01 to RUD07.

Public comments on the changes/additions to the Land and Planning Policies were then invited over the summer. Theoretically the findings of that most recent consultation have been taken into consideration by the relevant authorities before the final decision was reached. However, it’s evident that all the appeals by residents and the Parish Council for a reduction of housing allocation in Ruddington fell on deaf ears, leading many frustrated villagers to suspect it was a ‘done deal’ all along.

In his report to Rushcliffe Borough Council, Planning Inspector Philip Lewis has just rubber-stamped ALL RBC’s Ruddington sites for housing development. At current occupancy rates that’s around 1,200 new residents (and their cars) being added to our village! He states: “I am satisfied that Ruddington does have the level of services and facilities to accommodate additional growth above that set out in the Core Strategy. Whilst I have had regard to the appeal decision relating to development of land North of Asher Lane for 175 dwellings, and the concerns expressed regarding traffic and the impact on the village centre, the overall level of additional housing proposed for Ruddington, including that at Asher Lane, is justified and it is not necessary to reduce the level of housing development proposed in the Plan as a result of the granting of planning permission for the Asher Lane site.”

Chair of RAG, Mike Ader, told us: “We were hugely disappointed that Rushcliffe Borough Council did not amend its final Local Plan Stage 2 submission regarding the proposed number of houses in Ruddington, in light of the surprising Asher Lane outcome. This is hugely detrimental to Ruddington which is already overly congested and amenities totally stretched………approving 520+ new houses on Green Belt land, in addition to all of the ones expected on ‘Brown Field’, is ill thought through and plainly ridiculous!!”

A spokesperson for Protect Ruddington said: “This is extremely sad news for Ruddington. When Asher Lane was approved here was a logical chance to remove 130 of the planned houses on a flood prone site at a vital village gateway (Policy 6.1) – which now doesn’t even have an evening or Sunday bus service! Let’s hope these property developers will be made to pay for vital new village infrastructure to support all our new residents and their cars as a key part of their planning applications. We also urge RBC not to approve any proposals on these sites which are for a greater number of houses than suggested in the Local Plan. Bloor Homes is currently trying to get away with building 174 dwellings on its Wilford Road site – which has been allocated just 130!”

Indeed there are already planning applications pending for Wilford Road (Policy 6.1) and Flawforth Lane (Policy 6.2) upon which Rushcliffe Borough Council can now finally reach a definite decision, whilst outline approval has recently been granted by the Council for Mere Way (Policy 6.3) and the previously approved Asher Lane site (Policy 6.4). However, all prospective property developers (except Avant Homes’ outline plans at Asher Lane) have exceeded the quota of housing allocated to their sites within the Local Plan Part 2 when putting in their applications – over a THIRD more homes in the case of Wilford Road!

The Land West of Wilford Road just approved for 130 houses – but currently subject to an application by Bloor Homes for 174 houses – frequently floods.

On the subject of ‘Land West of Wilford Road’, Philip Lewis states: “The proposed allocation would give rise to a modest reduction in the extent of open land between Ruddington and West Bridgford and Clifton, but would not fundamentally conflict with the five purposes of the Green Belt as set out in paragraph 80 of the NPPF. Furthermore, the Council’s GBR concludes that the land is of low-medium Green Belt importance. The boundaries of the site are with the Packman Dyke to the north and A60* road to the east, with the other boundaries largely with the built-up area of the settlement. These boundaries are defined clearly using readily recognisable physical features and are likely to be permanent. The Council has taken into account the need to promote sustainable patterns of development and the allocation of the site is consistent with the strategy set out in Core Strategy Policy 3. In conclusion, exceptional circumstances exist to remove this site from the Green Belt for development.”

He adds: “The proposed development requirements would ensure that vulnerable development would not be located within Flood Zone 3. Whilst the development would require floodplain mitigation works, on the balance of evidence, I am satisfied that the site could deliver the proposed 130 homes.”  Bloor Homes‘ pending application to RBC, however, is actually for 174 houses here.

(* Please note the error in this report concerning Policy 6.1 – as it is, in fact, not the A60 but the B680 Wilford Road. Additionally, the Inspector has mistakenly rubber-stamped the Policy 6.4 Asher Lane plans with access from Asher Lane – rather than the revised and approved ones with the new access using Musters Road. This may just be a technicality but could potentially slow down the process.)

You can view Planning Inspector Philip Lewis’s complete 24 page report for Rushcliffe >>HERE<<.

The next step is an ‘Extraordinary Rushcliffe Borough Council Meeting’ called on Tuesday October 8th in which Councillors will be recommended to formally adopt this ‘final’, amended version of its Local Plan Part 2. Recently elected Ruddington Labour Councillors Mike Gaunt and Jen Walker are pledging to voice their objections and vote against it, unlike their Conservative predecessors. But it’s expected they will be in a minority and that the report will be waved through, incorporating the Inspector’s recommended modifications.

Please now read our update on this story >>HERE<<.

{Aerial image showing some of Ruddington’s soon to be gone Green Belt courtesy of Google Maps.}

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