Frequently Asked Questions
Need for new homes
Why are you bringing this proposal forward?
The site is owned by Nottinghamshire County Council and forms part of a county-wide drive to create much-needed new housing in sustainable locations. The application will be made by the Arc Partnership on behalf of the County Council.
Funding has been secured from Homes England, a public body which is responsible for increasing the number of new homes that are built in England, as part of the Local Authority Accelerated Construction Fund to help bring the site forward for development and deliver the necessary infrastructure.
Development of this site will help to meet the critical shortfall in housing in the Ashfield district.
But there are already lots of houses planned for the area – why is it necessary to develop this site?
A key Government objective is to significantly boost the supply of homes in the UK. Local planning authorities are required to identify a sufficient supply of available sites for development for a minimum of five years against their housing requirement. This is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.
Latest figures show that the Ashfield district will be underproviding 5,211 homes between 2020 and 2037.
Are you going to be bringing forward further proposals for more new homes on the land to the east of the site? The draft illustrative masterplan shows access points to it.
This is a stand-alone proposal that makes no assumptions about any development of land to the east in future. This land is in third party ownership and Nottinghamshire County Council has no commercial interest in it. Whether it is promoted for development in future will be a matter for the landowner concerned and any proposal would be considered by the Local Planning Authority (Ashfield District Council) on its individual merits at the time.
The draft illustrative masterplan includes a reference to possible future links to this land at the specific request of the Local Highway Authority (Nottinghamshire County Council) for completeness and to avoid landlocking.
Suitability for development
Is the site suitable for development?
A larger area including the proposed site was allocated for around 495 homes in the Ashfield District Local Plan (2017-2032). While the Local Plan was withdrawn in 2018, the site was considered suitable for development during the Local Plan evidence gathering process.
We are also producing an Environmental Statement to accompany the planning application which will assess the potential impact of the proposed development on the local environment. This will assess a range of issues including the landscape and visual impact, ecology, archaeology, transport, noise, air quality and flood risk.
The Environmental Statement will be available to view on Ashfield District Council’s planning portal once the planning application has been submitted.
Is the site a former landfill site – is it contaminated land?
The site has not been used for landfill. Ashfield District Council has confirmed that it has no records of landfilling on the site. There is a former landfill site to the south of the proposed site, at Low Moor Business Park.
There is no evidence of soil contamination on the site, which has been subject to stringent testing. As part of our investigation of the site we have undertaken targeted assessment of the soils and no evidence of landfill materials were noted.
What about the impact of the proposed development on traffic?
An independent Transport Assessment has been carried out which has considered the impact of the proposal. Detailed discussions with the Local Highway Authority (Nottinghamshire County Council) have taken place to agree key parameters of the Transport Assessment.
The Assessment has found that there will be no negative impact from traffic generated by the development on the local road network. The Transport Assessment will be submitted with the planning application and full details of the surveys will be available on the Ashfield District Council planning portal.
But won’t the development lead to heavier traffic / congestion on Low Moor Road or Kirkby Folly Road?
The signal-controlled junction on Low Moor Road would be increased in size as part of the proposal, with two lanes travelling in both directions. This is an improvement when compared to a forecast of how the junction would operate without the development.
What about the impact on other junctions nearby?
Other junctions nearby will be thoroughly considered in the Environmental Statement and in the Transport Assessment which will be submitted with the planning application. This will help determine if any other measures are needed, but generally the traffic impacts of the proposal are expected to be dissipated in the wider road network.
Flooding and drainage
Isn’t the site prone to flooding and are there groundwater springs on site?
The proposed site is in Flood Zone 1 of the Environment Agency’s flood mapping. The site is not within a natural floodplain. This is the lowest risk zone and means that is has less than 1 in 1,000 chance of flooding from rivers or steams in any given year.
Our Flood Risk consultants have undertaken a comprehensive site investigation and there is no suggestion of any groundwater springs on-site. The Greater Nottingham Strategic Flood Risk Assessment in 2017 shows the site is in the lowest category for groundwater flood risk. Testing in April 2021 found the soils to be clay-based and the infiltration potential of the soils to be very poor. Because of this, water would struggle to soak through the soils in either direction. The drainage proposals on the draft illustrative masterplan take full account of these characteristics.
What about surface water run-off? This has been a problem for some time in the local area.
The Environment Agency’s surface water flood risk mapping indicates that the vast majority of the site is at very low risk of flooding from surface water. There is a corridor of flood risk through the site, however the proposed surface water drainage system has been designed to manage this. It uses an oversized swale – a channel to store and direct surface water – and a surface water storage basin, which prevents flooding by storing rainwater and controlling the amount of water released from the site.
Surface water will be discharged to a Severn Trent Water surface water sewer which will take the water directly to the River Maun. By developing this site, we can retain water on the site and greatly reduce the potential for flooding further downstream, so the discharge of surface water will be reduced by approximately one fifth when compared to the current runoff rate.
Residential areas to the north of the site are prone to flooding – won’t the proposed development make this worse?
We are aware of existing surface water flooding issues to the north of the site around the Searby Road area. The Flood Risk Assessment for the proposal demonstrates that the issues experienced to the north of the site are unrelated and will not be affected by the proposed development.
Discussions with the Lead Local Flood Authority (Nottinghamshire County Council) have also confirmed that the existing flooding issues to Searby Road are unrelated to the site.
What about the foul sewage from the development? The existing public sewers in Kirkby Folly Road do not have capacity.
Severn Trent Water has a statutory requirement to accommodate new developments within its region. We have consulted Severn Trent Water about the proposed development, and it has said that it will carry out an internal capacity assessment to determine whether the existing infrastructure can accommodate the development. Where it believes there is insufficient capacity, Severn Trent Water will carry out upgrades to the system to increase capacity. The current proposed foul sewage connection point for the development has been based upon Severn Trent Water’s recommendations.
Construction of the homes
Do you have a developer in mind to build the new homes if you get planning permission?
Currently, a house builder is not involved with the application. A house builder would become involved once planning permission is granted and they would be responsible for building the new homes on site.
So the development won’t look like the plans you are submitting because a house builder isn’t working on the application?
The proposal comprises two elements, a Full Planning Application for the provision of highways and drainage infrastructure, and an Outline Planning Application which covers residential development landscaping and infrastructure.
The Outline Planning Application is to establish the principle of development on the site, for instance, the maximum number of houses to be developed.
If planning permission is granted, a further application will be needed, called a Reserved Matters Application. This will most likely be brought forward by a house builder and will set out all the details of the design, including what the houses will look like.
However, this is not a standard planning application and will be submitted with an Environmental Impact Assessment, due to the size of the site and its location near to other proposed developments. This Assessment has been informed by a range of technical assessments including flood risk and drainage, transport, ecology and ground conditions surveys and assessments, and sets the parameters for the development going forward. As a result, while a Reserved Matters application may be made at a later stage, parameters will have already been set by the Environmental Assessment.
What about the impact on education and health services?
The Environmental Impact Assessment, which is being prepared to support this application, includes a detailed assessment of the current education capacity. We have worked with Nottinghamshire County Council (the Education Authority) to ensure we are using the most up-to-date figures.
The application will also be submitted with a Draft Section 106 Agreement, a legally binding document, outlining the contributions to be made to local services, including education and healthcare provision. This agreement will evolve through consultation with service providers, including the Education Authority and NHS Trust. The service providers will ultimately calculate what contributions are required from the development to accommodate new people in the area. These consultation responses will be publicly available during the application.
Will the development affect wildlife on the site?
A full, detailed Ecological Assessment of the site has been undertaken to inform the draft illustrative masterplan and application. The Ecological Assessment will be available to view when the application is submitted.
The proposed development incorporates the creation of comprehensive green infrastructure, including the enhancement of landscape buffers, which are visual barriers formed by rows of shrubs or trees. This involves putting in new native plants along the site boundaries and at key points throughout the site, the integration of new wetland, tree planting, and opportunities for community gardens and orchards.
Existing hedgerow will be retained throughout the site where possible and reinstated along the Low Moor Road frontage. This new landscaping and green infrastructure is a great opportunity to significantly improve biodiversity on the site.