Local residents may not be aware that planning applications for the last phases of the major housing development at Edwalton have recently been submitted. They are located at the northern end where the main part of a 10 hectare Community Park will also be established. The proposed scheme for it can now be viewed on Rushcliffe Borough Council’s website (ref no: 21/01349/REM).
These proposals appear to have been hurriedly submitted, with no prior public consultation exercise, and comments by the Sharphill Action Group (SAG) suggest that the scheme is not fully realised. There is a lack of detail about the allotments, a means of access, the surface water drainage and the extent of the area to be treated as parkland by the developer, Vistry Homes.
In the May edition of Local News I referred to a mysterious Council proposal for a community building within the park area that would restrict its size and views of the Wood. This has thankfully been omitted from the park proposals plan and, with no explanation by the Council over the past 3 months, it appears that the idea has been quietly shelved.
The Council’s Development Framework (p.52) sees the role of the park as more of a nature reserve than as an area for intense recreational activity. It will cover “…a range of native habitats including woodland, scrub, hedgerows, wildflower grassland and meadows. The approach seeks to provide a community asset, to enhance biodiversity and to establish a suitable landscape buffer to Sharphill Wood”. These aims may be largely achieved judged solely on the proposed planting, but other matters demand some clarity:
1) How will the proposed allotments be accessed and enclosed? At present there is no vehicle route defined through the adjacent Phase 7 housing or land set aside for a small car park area. In addition, no arrangement of plots or provision of a secure store for Friends of Sharphill Wood is identified.
2) Why does a final plan for the park only refer to a potential allotment site? Are there other better sites being considered?
3) Will the surface water drainage arrangements cope with peak periods of run-off? There is a history of localised storm flooding in properties that sit below the park area, aggravated recently by mounds of earth stored on the site, which greatly concerns Willow Road and Bracey Rise residents. It seems that the speed of future run-off will rely on new planting and good maintenance of an existing field culvert to absorb its impact, as well as some diversion via the spine road system.
4) Will the layers of earth bunds be eventually used for a less steep re-profiling of the hillside and how will that affect the proposed ‘buffer zone’ with adjacent properties?
5) Will the displaced wildlife be provided for, notably badgers whose movements and setts have already been adversely affected by construction works?
6) Why has Vistry Homes condensed the area of parkland that falls within the application’s red line boundary so that it excludes key elements of the proposals such as the long awaited footpath/cycleway improvement to the A.52 underpass?
It is unlikely that all the above issues will be rectified in cordial discussions between Rushcliffe planners and the Sharphill developers. I expect some ‘slippage’ where the Planning Department’s resources are overstretched and developers turn a blind eye to inconvenient detail. Thus there is merit in making enquiries and lodging objections, for which there is guidance on the SAG website (savesharphillagain.org), and in looking out for the Phase 7 & 8 planning applications* which seek final approval for 270 homes.
(*Ref Nos: 21/00502/ REM and 21/01337/REM).