FRIENDS OF FIELD FARM
Latest Update June 2015
We wish to update you on the feedback received to our alternative proposals to limit the damage from the planned housing development at Field Farm, sent on 29 January. Many thanks if you have replied to our consultation (and if you haven’t, your opinion is still important to us)!
Our proposal (available for download at http://e-voice.org.uk/strag/assets/documents/news-letter-no-5), was for a combination of slightly higher densities in part of the site and no development, but instead an extension of Stapleford Hills Woodland Local Nature Reserve, in the north-eastern part. The written feedback we received (from members of the public and councillors) was overwhelmingly positive: 74% agreed that this would be the best compromise possible if the 450 dwellings have to be built.
Among the 26% negative comments, the predominant issue was that the plans were not necessarily bad but unrealistic, since people are concerned there isn’t a strong enough market for apartments. People are also concerned that apartments would not be attractive enough, and one mention was made of the feasibility of the project, the lack of run off for rainfall and playing areas for children. We think these issues can be addressed by intelligent and innovative design (more on this below). To be exhaustive we should also report one mention of fears of increase in social issues in three stories buildings. In our opinion, having good neighbours in the same house rather provides increased safety, and also opens up more possibilities for inter-generational support between elderly people and young families.
Since this response from the community encouraged us to take the idea further, on 4 March STRAG had a meeting with Broxtowe Borough Council’s planning officers and representatives of Westerman homes (the developer). This meeting was arranged by Cllr. Stan Heptinstall, whom we wish to thank again for this. Stan strongly put forward the importance of the area for both the local community and biodiversity. STRAG was able to put forward in details the reasons and advantages of our alternative proposal. We insisted that ecology wasn’t just about a corridor but also about noise and light pollution, foraging lands for species etc. and that the road over Boundary Brook itself, if it couldn’t be avoided, would make the biggest damage. We also expressed our concerns to the Council about the proposed removal of the adjacent land from the Green Belt (Zone 31 in the ongoing Green Belt Review consultation) and called for a coordinated planning approach towards biodiversity conservation/ enhancement over both sites.
The planners stated that they would be delighted to see a solution to reinforce the wildlife corridor, and that increasing densities to that effect was a perfectly sound principle.
Westerman’s stated that it would actually be more economical to build apartment blocks than individual houses and agreed to try and minimise the number of houses on the most valuable land; however they have experienced difficulties in the past with selling apartments. We insisted on the need to propose something really state-of-the-art in terms of environmentally-friendly design, and visually innovative and attractive.
Westerman’s proposes to stage a public presentation in the spring, once they have a revised plan and before they submit the full planning application. It will be very important for residents and interested parties to come and comment on the proposed design, since this will also give the developers an indication on the market’s perception of their plans, and could encourage them to choose the less damaging options.
29th January 2015
A BETTER ALTERNATIVE FOR FIELD FARM? WE NEED YOUR OPINION!
WELCOME TO OUR FIFTH NEWSLETTER:
A quick introduction for new readers: This Newsletter is produced at irregular intervals by Stapleford and Trowell Rural Action Group (STRAG) to inform the community about the future of Field Farm. Field Farm is a 30 hectare rural site which was part of the Nottingham-Derby Green Belt until excluded in the recent local plan, the Greater Nottingham Aligned Core Strategies. It comprises five farmed fields and a mature plantation, located in Stapleford and Trowell, between the A6007 (Ilkeston Road/Trowell Road/ Stapleford Road), the Pit Lane Recreation Area, the railway line, Stapleford Hill woodland and Mayfield Drive. Last November, Broxtowe Borough Council granted outline planning permission to the owner (Westerman Homes) to build up to 450 houses on the site. STRAG has been opposing housing development at Field Farm since before 2000 because:
it is part of a unique wildlife corridor between Wollaton Park and the open countryside,
it is a recreation area very valuable to the local community and beyond,
it is essential to preserving the separate identities of Trowell and Stapleford and
such a development will put a huge pressure on the current transport and services infrastructure without any effective mitigation measure in sight.
You can follow the history of our campaigns on our website, e-voice.org.uk/strag.
The detailed planning documents can all be found at planning.broxtowe.gov.uk, application ref.
WE HAVE LOST ONE BATTLE, BUT THERE IS STILL MUCH AT STAKE!
It is now highly likely that the 450 dwellings will be built on the site. But the development has only received outline planning permission, with nothing set in stone except the access points, so the design is still completely negotiable. And looking at the provisional plans, 20% of the development could account for 80% of the damage!
The main part of the site consists of two large adjacent agricultural fields (plus a third one on which no development is foreseen), bordering on existing built-up area on two sides, a plantation and Boundary Brook on the others, with a slope upward toward the established plantation to the east.
But east of the old farm buildings, about 100 houses are planned on two smaller fields, nestled between the plantation, Stapleford Hills Woodland and the railway either side of the brook, one in Trowell and one in Stapleford (yellow marked area on the picture above).
The unique ecological corridor connecting the city with the open countryside (Wollaton Park – Bramcote Ridge – Stapleford Hill – Nottingham Canal),runs through here and would be cut through by a road over the brook. All grade 2 agricultural land of the site is also contained in this area, and it is crossed by a major public right of way (Robin Hood Way and the newly established Erewash Valley Trail).
The temporary layout as planned by the developers (Design & Access Statement, Rev. A, Fig. 5.2, © Westerman Homes 11/2012)
STRAG is not the only group saying that it is essential that these two fields are preserved:
“In ecological terms, we feel it would be most preferable to leave the land north of the plantation undeveloped.” – Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trusts
“The area adjacent to the railway line should be withdrawn from the development and retained as open space.” – Stapleford Town Council
“The Parish Council has objected to any housing development on greenbelt land within the parish.” – Trowell Parish Council
THE ALTERNATIVE: SLIGHTLY HIGHER DENSITIES AND AN EXTENDED LOCAL NATURE RESERVE
We would like to put the following alternative: relocate approximately 100 dwellings from the north-eastern part into the main site, by including a limited number of 2- and 3-storey apartment buildings.
We are not talking here about 1960’s blocks of flats, but about attractive, high-quality family apartments well integrated among more traditional houses. Concentration allows a significant saving of space (for both living quarters and parking) and if you think about it, a 3-storey flat-roof building is no higher than a 2-storey pitched roof house. There can be green roofs, with positive visual and ecological impact. Also, this could help create a centre for the new neighbourhood and avoid another of those soulless commuters’ developments. Buyers would be more attracted to a state-of-the-art, roomy apartment with nature at its doorstep than to a house with a tiny garden along the railway line and at the back of the crematorium!
In this way, the Field Farm development would have proper defensible topographic boundaries: Boundary Brook to the north and the ridge covered by the established plantation to the east. It would remain shielded from view from the north.
Obviously, we wouldn’t want this to go ahead only to see a further planning application for the remaining land a few years down the line... This is why Broxtowe Borough Council should negotiate with the developer the designation of the safeguarded land as an extension of Stapleford Hills Woodland Local Nature Reserve. Well-targeted management could enhance the biodiversity for the benefit of our bats, owls, water voles, grass snakes and occasional deer.
Examples of well-designed, modern apartment houses
Remember: only outline planning permission has been granted. It is now up to Broxtowe Borough Council to listen to its residents and support an innovative flagship project, or simply go down the road of least effort and least long-term benefit.
We need your opinion!
What do you think of our proposals? Are you willing to get involved in promoting this plan?
Please e-mail your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. With the elections around the corner, we will take it to all prospective candidates and we hope to make a difference!