Here is a timeline of events that changed much loved Greenbelt into a building site
1982Notts County Council proposed that Sharphill remain in the Greenbelt. Despite Landowner Wells objecting, NCC confirmed that Sharphill was Greenbelt. One Sunday, various hedges and trees were removed.
1993Rushcliffe Council bought land on Sharphill (over £400,000) from Landowner Wells. He could farm and market the land. If planning permission is given for development, the ‘uplift’ in value would be shared. i.e. Rushcliffe Council bought land at Sharphill so that if, it was planned to build on Sharphill this would be to the mutual financial advantage of the Council and Landowner.
1996NCC Structure Plan Review emphasised the importance of protection of the Sharphill Ridgeline.
2000Rushcliffe Council Plan for housing included 1700 houses on Sharphill. The Plan was shelved when the Highways Agency objected. Highways’ later study said that flyovers would be needed at the Gamston, Wheatcroft and Nottingham Knight Islands. The 4th Trent Crossing was seen as the long term solution to the problems with the A52.
2004RBC proposed a similar housing plan for 1200 houses on Sharphill.
2005 DecemberLandowner bought back the original land from Rushcliffe at the original price with a continued profit sharing deal if houses were built. Now Rushcliffe gets 40%. The Council stood to gain many £ millions from the sale of the land.
2006 FebruaryAn independent enquiry by a Planning Inspector recommended that “the Plan be modified by deleting the Edwalton allocation and that the council gives consideration to undertaking a District-wide assessment to identify alternative sites”…“there are serious concerns regarding the suitability of the Sharphill, Edwalton allocation”. These concerns centred on (a) the visual and topographical impact of the site in question, (b) the need for access and transport to the site and (c) the impact that this need will have on the already stretched transport infrastructure in the area. The Highways Agency objected because of the overload on the A52.
2006 MayResidents’ protests about RBC proposing building on Sharphill was expressed by many directly and by the Hands Across the Hill demonstration.
2006 JuneRBC continued with the Plan including building 1,200 houses on Sharphill. It was defeated at a Council meeting. A Liberal Democrat amendment to remove Sharphill from the Plan was carried by 25 votes to 22. Subsequently the ruling group decided to have no statutory plan, leaving the area vulnerable to applications including on Sharphill.
2006 SeptemberThe ‘Road to Nowhere’, a kerbed, lined and tarmacked road off the A52 into agricultural land, had been built by Landowner Wells without planning permission. Rushcliffe’s Development Control Committee dismissed officers’ recommendations that this was inappropriate use of green belt. They approved the retrospective plan.
2008Wilson Homes and Mr Wells made a planning application for 1,200 houses on Sharphill. This time Rushcliffe Council Officers turned down the application. The developers appealed.
2009The appeal and objections were aired at a Public Hearing. The Planning Inspector recommended and Government gave the go-ahead to the outline plans. The main reason for this was the urgent need for housing in Rushcliffe.
The approved plan was for 900 houses and community facilities between the Melton Road and Sharphill Wood, 300 houses in a triangle between Melton Road and the ring road; a 35 hectare Community Park surrounding the Wood and on the northern slope of the Hill facing over Nottingham, green corridors in the estate and a barrier at the top of Musters Rd limiting traffic to public service vehicles only.
A key condition was that a start be made on site within two years because of the urgent need for housing and affordable housing in Rushcliffe. Also 30% of the homes should be ‘affordable’. Developers put a cabin on site and dug a hole and have built nothing in four years.
The accepted traffic assessment was based on a 25% shift of travel onto the public transport. This was based on highway improvements including an underpass (since scrapped and replaced by 3 traffic lights); a 13 year free for residents bus service (since limited to the western part of the estate) and improvements to the Wheatcroft and Nottingham Knight Islands, which “will leave a situation in 2018 no worse with the development in place than it would have been with no development and no improvements”.
2011Developers consulted residents adjoining the land about specifics. They submitted the first detailed plan for 357 houses which RBC approved.
2012Badger found on the farmland edge of the wood dead with a hole in its head.
2013RBC consulted on their proposed Housing Plan for Rushcliffe which includes a further 550 houses on top of the 1200 at Sharphill.
1750 properties means houses: nearer to the wood; on the area which was to be the football pitches: nearer to Musters Rd; a road round the south of the wood parallel to the Ring Road and houses on the fields to the west of the wood i.e. round the ‘road to nowhere’. Each of these green areas had been cited by the Inspector in 2009 as important environmental safeguards on which basis he dismissed objections and were the basis of the Government decision to approve building 1200 houses. If the extra 550 were to proceed, the community park would be much reduced and wildlife and regeneration in the Nature Reserve Wood would cease because it would be surrounded by houses, people and pets. The last green lungs of West Bridgford with its footpaths and views would be vastly eroded. Car dependency and distance from the Town Centre would increase.
The Council continues to stand to gain many £ millions from building on Sharphill.
And next …
31 October and 26 November Councillors on the Local Development Framework working group meet to consider the issues and make recommendations.
12 December 2013 RBC Council is to decide on its Plan.
Rushcliffe Residents Association