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Highfields School homes plan refused

Plans for at least 89 homes on land at a Newark school that would have destroyed 95 metres of hedgerow and seen the removal of protected trees have been rejected.

Two plans were put forward by Avant Homes (England) Ltd for housing at Highfields School, Newark — amended proposals for 89 homes and a separate proposal for 95 homes.

Both developments — opposed by many residents of nearby Glebe Park and The Woodwards — were rejected unanimously by Newark and Sherwood District Council’s planning committee.

The 89-home development would have included a children’s play area surrounded by walls more than 8ft high, which raised concerns among the committee about security.

Both developments would have been on the border of Newark and Balderton and would have involved removing trees protected by preservation orders.

Several members of the planning committee raised concerns about a lack of financial contributions by the developer, known as Section 106 money, and lower-cost housing.

Both the applications had been recommended for approval by council officers.

Removal of hedgerow

Balderton Parish Council, which objected, raised concerns about the high density of the development, the increase in traffic on London Road, and a lack of capacity at nearby schools.

The council also raised concerns about the removal of 95 metres of hedgerow believed to have been planted in the 1850s as a boundary between Newark and Balderton.

Mrs Lydia Hurst, vice-chairman of Balderton Parish Council, said: “The Highfields development is over-intensive and will result in the loss of green space between Newark and Balderton.”

Mr David Lloyd, of Newark Town Council, said there were many more housing developments planned for Newark and the surrounding area in the coming years and this one was not needed.

Council leader Mr Roger Blaney, who proposed refusal of both applications, said the developer was not offering the recommended amount to support local schools, which were already over capacity.

Councillors opposed the smaller scheme because of concerns around the multi-use games area and its potential to attract anti-social behaviour.

Members said the playing area would have been surrounded by walls more than 8ft high making it difficult to see into it.

'Just get rid of it.'

Mr Johno Lee, an Army veteran, said: “There’s more protection around the multi-use games area than we had in Afghanistan around our military camps.

“Just get rid of it and do something else — this is awful.”

Mr Will Staunton, a governor at Highfields School, said: “We are surprised by the decision given the chief planning officer’s recommendation for approval and will review the reasons once the decision notice is available to consider the best options.

“The development plan is about providing a long-term investment in the infrastructure of our buildings to preserve their longevity and is independent to the day-to-day operations, which are not affected by this decision.”

An Avant Homes spokesman said: “We are disappointed with the decision.

“Our proposed development would rejuvenate the site and deliver a range of high quality homes to the area.

“We are currently considering our next course of action for both applications.”

Liz Doogan-Hobbs, of The Woodwards, was among campaigners fighting the development.

She said: “Whilst all residents present were delighted by the outcome, at this point, as responsible and caring residents, let’s not forget in the midst of all this there is a fantastic school in Highfields that needs protecting and help to survive. This was the way they had chosen to go and we cannot ignore that.

“Perhaps it may now be the right time for Highfields to reach out and invite local residents, who do care, in to help them look at other fundraising options and funding opportunities, to avoid the need for this appalling development to be considered again.

“Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to defeat these two inappropriate and unsuitable development schemes.

“After another year-long fight, it’s nice to know that everyone in Balderton can breathe again and enjoy the green and beautiful divide between Newark and Balderton parishes and the historic drive into our beautiful town.”

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