Chestnut Avenue and Cedar Avenue residents raise concerns over Nottingham Community Housing Association's planning application for the playing fields
A £4.6m scheme that would deliver affordable and supported housing could be built on one of the last large green open spaces in the north of Newark.
A planning application has been submitted by Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA) for 32 new homes on the playing field on Cedar Avenue.
It is for 24 houses, six flats for supported housing and two shared houses but nearby residents have raised concerns about the plans.
The 0.9 hectare site was sold in 2017 after it was offered for sale by informal tender by its owners, the Gilstrap Trust charity.
The site was on Newark and Sherwood District Council’s housing allocation list, having been put forward by the charity.
The 49 neighbouring properties of the playing fields have been notified of the planning application by letter.
Residents of Cedar Avenue and Chestnut Avenue have raised concerns over the planning application.
Dawn Bramall, of Chestnut Avenue, said: “I received a letter and my house backs on to the field.
“I asked years ago for a drive way down the side of our garage but I was told it was left in the trust for the children and it was never to be built on.”
Pat Dickinson said: “Children are always on the field at night playing. It provides great access for the children to play safely.
“We also have a lot of people walking their dogs around the field, where are they going to go if there is going to be more housing.
“The park round the corner is for much younger kids. There’s nowhere to kick a football about.”
Julie Gilbert said: “I have dogs and I walk them on the field.
“I moved here 20 years ago and I thought it was protected for the children.
“As residents we are also concerned about the traffic flow.
“When all the cars are parked on Cedar Avenue you can’t get through.
“If there were to be a fire then there’s no way a fire engine would be able to get down the road with all the cars parked.
“We only have so many spaces for parking.”
Clive Godney said: “I have lived here for nearly 40 years and I have always known that this playing field was left for the children to play on.
“It is sad that they are planning to build on it but I am concerned for the children.Where will they go?
“They will end up playing on the streets and that’s not safe.”
Concerns have also been raised by Facebook group Winthorpe Estate Residents Group about a perceived conflict of interest because the charity’s trustees are members of the district council.
They call for transparency, something both the council and the trust say already exists.
A spokesman for the district council said: “Newark and Sherwood District Council has taken great care to ensure that its role as trustee for the Gilstrap Trust and its role as local planning authority are kept distinct and separate, in line with the highest standards of probity and integrity.
“None of the councillors on the board of trustees will take any part in the consideration and determination of the Chestnut Avenue planning application.”
The trustees of the Gilstrap Trust are all elected members of the district council, in accordance with the wishes of its founder, Sir William Gilstrap, a former Mayor of Newark.
The aims of the charity are the advancement of public knowledge and understanding of features of historical interest in Newark and the arts, culture, heritage and science. It has to generate funds, where possible, to further those aims.
The charity’s trustees are legally obligated to act in its best interests, ahead of their responsibilities as councillors.
A spokesperson for the Gilstrap Trust said: “The trustees of the Gilstrap Charity have acted at all times in good faith and completely in accordance with the purpose and provisions of the trust.
“The Charity Commission is the proper body to direct complaints to, however, the trustees are more than willing to meet with representatives of the Winthorpe Residents’ Group to explain the trust’s position and their responsibilities in full.”
The council has embarked on a three-week consultation period, where concerned parties are invited to make comments on the planning application.