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Hucknall councillors officially object to plans for new County Council office building in Linby

today28 June 2022 1

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A group of Hucknall councillors are objecting to plans for a new £15.7 million Nottinghamshire County Council office. The new office space at Top Wighay, Linby is part of a planned new village at the site but the councillors feel the money would be best spent elsewhere.

The site near Hucknall will consist of more than 800 new homes, a primary school and the office. It is expected to create more than 1,000 new full time jobs and boost the local economy. Councillors Dave Shaw, Lee Waters and John Wilmott from Hucknall West, Hucknall South and Hucknall North have written an objection to the plans.

They claim that the application for the new office is ‘clouded in uncertainty’ and that ‘it’s impossible to assess the impact on highways’ due to reportedly not being told how many staff will be at the site and which services will move there. Speaking on behalf of the councillors, Councillor Lee Waters said: “We’ve exhausted the political arguments.

Read more: Concern Nottinghamshire housing developments could lead to areas being ‘swamped’

We said that the £15.7 million should be spent fixing our broken roads and pavements. The Conservatives at County Hall would rather spend the money on an expensive office block we don’t need. Due to rising inflation, this £15.7m could well go over budget and go over the £20million mark.

“We now have the unedifying situation where Conservatives at County Hall ask themselves for planning permission. They’ve even restricted the consultation to an electronic one meaning many impacted in Hucknall won’t even get the chance to object despite massive concerns.”

He added: “Despite several attempts to find out, the County Council are still no clearer how many staff and departments will be moving to the new office. There’s no evidence on any discussion with Trade Unions and yet they claim the impact on highways in Hucknall will be minimal.

“They are also putting workers safety by refusing to install a formal pedestrian crossing point on the access road dual carriageway between the bus layby and the roundabout to save money. We’ve been against this office block we don’t need from day one. Hucknall deserves better than guess work in what many view as an expensive done deal.”

The councillors also say that the proposed site is too far away from Hucknall Train Station and that public transport links need to be improved. They say it is too far from the station to walk and that roads are too unsafe to cycle on which would hinder the council’s plan to go net zero by 2030.

In response to the objection, Matthew Neal, investment director at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “As part of the statutory planning process, we’ve welcomed feedback on proposals from partners and the community for the new office building at Top Wighay.

“This is due to house front-line services such as social services, which are currently based in leased office space which we are paying out for in rent. It also plans to provide new, flexible workspace and accommodation for small and medium-sized businesses as a further way to help boost the economy.

“We’ve had a range of comments from wider local community, which we are currently in discussions about and looking into as part of the usual planning consultation process. Our planning and rights of way committee is due to make a final decision on planning permission for the new offices in the coming weeks.”

He added: “We appreciate there are concerns about the potential impact on traffic, so as part of any infrastructure project, our transport and highways teams will continue look at any long-term impact and continue to monitor the safety of our highways.

“Footpaths, cycling routes, cycle lockers and traffic calming measures are at the heart of plans and the site is already near to an existing bus route, with new bus stops proposed.

“Completed infrastructure work at the site includes an expanded roundabout on the A611/Annesley Road, a new signal-controlled junction as well as a new, three-metre wide, shared use footway/cycle lane along the northern side of the A611 north of Hucknall and to the west of Linby. This work has already help limit the impact of traffic on nearby towns and villages.”

Councillor Keith Girling, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Asset Management said: “I find it incredulous that in public the Ashfield Independents protest about the application yet do not mention this in their official response. “The Council (Ashfield District Council) raises no objection to the proposed development in principle, and is pleased to see features being installed to encourage the use of more sustainable modes of transport.

“It is noted that there will be space for up to 40 cycles to be securely locked within a cycle store. A number of Electric Vehicle (EV) charge points are also proposed to be installed; 10 EV charging spaces within the staff car park, and a total of 3 within the visitors car park (which includes 1 EV disabled parking space).”

He added: “Yet again the Ashfield Independents say one thing to the public but betray them behind their backs, there’s no objections and I have concrete evidence to substantiate my statement.

“This is all part of our wider plan to bring long-term savings for taxpayers by creating more carbon-neutral, fit for purpose council buildings, generating income by leasing space within buildings, and co-locating with other public organisations.

“We’ve reduced our estate by almost half and the overall impact of this is that it will save money, not cost money. We have made a clear pledge to help meet the UK’s carbon-neutral targets by 2030 so it’s vital we invest now to make our buildings more energy-efficient, such the site Top Wighay, which aims to be as carbon- neutral as possible.”

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